The zone is the third to be established in Syria under an initiative aimed at halting fighting in four areas between regime forces and the opposition.
The zone is the third to be established in Syria under an initiative aimed at halting fighting in four areas between regime forces and the opposition.

Syrian regime forces and moderate opposition groups have agreed to a ceasefire in northern parts of Homs province on Thursday, after Russia struck a deal with the opposition on implementing a third safe zone, Moscow said.

"From 1200 local time (0900 GMT), units of the moderate opposition and government forces will completely stop firing," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Konashenkov said Moscow and Syrian opposition groups had reached an agreement on the "operational details" of a "de-escalation zone" north of the city of Homs at talks in Cairo on July 31.

The zone is the third to be established in Syria under a Russian-led initiative aimed at halting fighting in four areas between regime forces and the opposition.

It covers 84 towns and villages with a total population of 147,000 people, Moscow said.

Russia has been behind a push to pacify Syria since the start of this year after tipping the six-year conflict in favour of Assad with its game-changing military intervention in 2015.

Konashenkov said Russian military police will set up two checkpoints and three observation posts on Friday along the boundaries of the zone dividing the two forces.

Rebels had agreed to unblock part of a road running through the safe zone between the cities of Homs and Hama and a Committee for National Justice made up of rebels and local groups would help oversee the implementation of the plan, he said.

Russian embassy shelled

The Russian embassy in Damascus was targeted in a mortar attack on Wednesday, in which none of the embassy staff was hurt, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Two of the mortar shells landed and exploded in the compound of the embassy while another two detonated close near its outside perimeter, it said.

Civilians deaths in Raqqa

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said at least nine civilians were killed on Wednesday in Raqqa city after US-coalition air strikes on Tuesday hit in the Al Bosaraya neighbourhood.

It added that the death toll might go up as there was a large number of injured people.

Since June 6, the US-backed SDF has been fighting Daesh in Raqqa city.

The fight in Raqqa city is a part of wider campaign that has been launched by SDF since Oct 2016, aiming to drive Daesh out of Raqqa province.

The SDF is dominated by YPG, which is the armed wing of the PYD.

Ankara considers the PYD to be the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and EU.

The fight in the city has progressed slowly has caused a large number of civilian casualties.

According to SOHR, more than 400 civilians have been killed in Raqqa city since the operation started last June.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies