RUSSIA MONITOR

Date: 25 July 2017

Russia controls, Syria bombs

Moscow has done the next step towards an implementation of the plan to create so-called “de-escalation zones” in Syria, which was announced in May. At the end of the previous week, Russian military police appeared in two zones where ceasefire had been introduced. Russia’s presence as ceasefire guards in the rebel enclave east of Damascus did not prevent Al-Assad’s air force from carrying out raids on these territories. As a result, civilians were killed.


© SERGEY VAGANOV PAP/EPA

It seems that concerns expressed by critics of the Russian “peace plan” can be confirmed and this plan may constitute only a pretext to strengthen the regime’s forces in this area. It can be particularly noticed in this “de-escalation zone” where neither American nor Jordanian guarantees can be given.

On July 21 and 22, the Russian military command deployed its military forces in two de-escalation zones (out of proposed four): in south-west Syria and near Damascus. The troops’ main task will be to monitor whether the ceasefire is respected. It is not known exactly how many soldiers are on their observation posts. In the zone in the south-west of the country (governorates of Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda) the truce was introduced on July 9, right after the Hamburg’s meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Here, the Russians deployed 12 military police posts; Moscow has asserted that Americans, Jordanians and Israelis had been informed about this event in advance.

In fact, the second zone has existed since Saturday, July 22. The same day the government army announced a halt in fighting for some parts of Eastern Ghouta. This enclave, located north-east from Damascus, constitutes one of the few zones controlled by the rebellion, situated around the capital occupied by regime forces. In total, Russia has deployed six posts, including two checkpoints and four observations posts. However, on Sunday 23 July, Syrian air force carried out six attacks in the towns of Douma and Ein Tarma. Further air strikes were conducted after Moscow had officially confirmed presence of its troops on this territory. In the night from July 24 to July 25, at least 9 civilians were killed in regime war planes’ raids whereas 30 people were injured.

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