Mediators from Russia, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum May 4 to create four safe zones for civilians in Syria, a major milestone in the fourth round of cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Speaking at a Russian Defense Ministry briefing May 5, Deputy Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin credited the “constructive attitudes of Turkey and Iran” and the “helpful position of the United States.”
The formation of the initiative, as revealed by Russian military leadership, had a twisted pre-history. President Vladimir Putin initially tasked the Russian Defense Ministry to elaborate on ways to secure the cease-fire. On April 25, a special working group of the Defense Ministry went to Damascus for meetings with the Syrian government. On April 26, the group moved to Turkey for meetings with Turkish leadership in Syria and militant opposition groups.