Three de-escalation zones previously agreed on saw a dramatic drop in hostilities. The latest deal is expected to bring some measure of peace to Syria's Idlib province.

Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed on a safe zone in Idlib in the sixth round of Astana talks.
Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed on a safe zone in Idlib in the sixth round of Astana talks. (AA)

Russia, Iran and Turkey have agreed on the borders of a "de-escalation" zone in Syria's northern Idlib province, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday.

It said delegates from the three countries, who met in Astana, were still discussing what forces to deploy in Idlib, which is under the control of a rebel alliance spearheaded by the former Al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front.

A statement released by the Turkish foreign ministry said checkpoints to be established in the de-escalation zone will be manned by personnel from the three guarantor countries – Turkey, Russia and Iran. Observers from the three countries will also be deployed to monitor ceasefire violations and to prevent clashes between the warring factions from erupting. 

The observers and checkpoints will be coordinated by the Joint Coordination Centre, to be established by Iran, Turkey and Russia, and will include military and intelligence officers from the three countries. 

“Russia, Turkey and Iran to send 500 observers each to Syria's Idlib; the Russians will be military police,” a Russian negotiator in Astana told reporters. He also said that exact deployment locations of observers have not yet been determined.

According to the joint statement, de-escalation zones will be established for six months, and the parties will take all necessary measures to continue to fight against the entities associated with Al Qaeda and Daesh, within and outside the de-escalation areas.

The new round of talks is planned for late October. 

On Thursday evening Russia’s envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, had said that an agreement was “very close” on establishing a fourth safe zone in Idlib.

Details on the agreement reached on Friday were not immediately available.

“We are very close to signing an agreement on all these four de-escalation zones,” he told journalists.

TRT World's Andrew Hopkins brings us the latest from Astana.

Representatives of the Syrian regime and opposition, the United Nations and observers from the United States and Jordan are also attending the talks.

In December 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to suggest Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, as a new venue to carry on the Syrian peace talks. 

The first round of negotiations began in January 2017, and the sides are now meeting in the sixth round.

The focus in Astana was to provide security for civilians by creating de-escalation zones, a plan Turkey had long insisted on. 

In May, Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to establish four de-escalation zones, with the largest one in Idlib province. 

In the three earlier agreed zones, hostilities were drastically reduced with the assistance of Russia, Iran, Egypt, the US and Jordan. 

Source: AA