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UN chief welcomes agreement over buffer zone in Idlib

New York, The agreement between Turkey and Russia to create a demilitarized buffer zone protecting civilians living in Idlib, Syria, has been welcomed by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In a statement, Mr. Guterres also urged all parties in Syria to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas of the country, where a brutal civil conflict has raged for more than seven years.

The Secretary-General stresses the need for swift action to address the root causes of the conflict and forge, at long last, a durable political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254, noted the statement, released by his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

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The agreement, reached between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, aims to avert a full-scale military operation that the UN chief warned last week, could turn the region into a bloodbath. The last rebel-held Governorate in Syria, half of Idlib's population of nearly three million, are internally-displaced civilians, and a million are children.

According to media reports, a 15-20-kilometre-wide de-escalation zone � to be patrolled by Russian and Turkish troops � will be established by 15 October, to separate Government forces from rebel fighters based there.

The agreement is also a welcome development amid worrying escalation in other parts of the country, Staffan De Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, told the Security Council on Tuesday, citing reports of fresh airstrikes in Damascus and the downing of a Russian military aircraft on Monday night, which left 15 servicemen dead.

Russia has blamed Israel for the incident. Israel on the other hand, said that its fighter aircraft were targeting a weapons shipment to Lebanon, threatening its security. The Israeli Defense Forces issued a statement on Twitter expressing sorrow for the deaths and blamed the Syrian military for the Russian aircraft being shot down. Israel also said that it will share all the relevant information concerning the incident with the Russian Government.

At the Security Council, UN envoy De Mistura, urged all parties to refrain from military action, reiterating that it would only exacerbate a complex situation in war-ravaged Syria.

Turning to the agreement itself, Mr. De Mistura said that there is now no reason not to move forward expeditiously on the political process, guided by Security Council resolution 2254, that lays out a roadmap for a political settlement in the country.

We need an inclusive political process, and the UN is here to facilitate that process, starting with a constitutional committee getting to work, he said, noting that the process must be credible, because only then can the UN invest it with the legitimacy it needs.

I ask all concerned to give the UN facilitation in the next weeks, their full support, he said.

action response However, much more needs to be done before the city is safe and conducive for returns, said Mr. Lowcock.

Meanwhile, Iran's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Gholamali Khoshroo told a UN Security Council session in New York that the Sochi Agreement was achieved as a result of the tripartite summit of the Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents in Tehran and the diplomatic efforts of the three countries.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA


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