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UN Envoy Says Violence Down Despite Clashes Between U.S., Syrian, Iran-Backed Forces

The United Nations envoy for Syria says violence is down in the war-torn country despite repeated clashes recently between U.S., Syrian, and Iranian-backed forces there.

"Violence is clearly down...and many towns have returned to some degree of normalcy," but in some areas fighting has continued and intensified, Staffan de Mistura told reporters in New York on June 27.

Mistura credited efforts to establish "de-escalation zones" within the country under a plan approved by Russia, Iran, and Turkey last month, though the plan has not been fully fleshed out.

"We are at a time of testing whether the political will exists for real de-escalation and more meaningful political talks and movement beyond preparatory talks," Mistura said.

"With every week that passes without any final arrangement for the de-escalation zones...the fragility of the cease-fire regime, and the risk posed by the fragility increases," he said.

Russia, Turkey, and Iran will strive to finalize details for implementing the de-escalation zones at a meeting in Astana on July 4-5, which Mistura said he would attend.

"Let's give the de-escalation therefore a fair chance to succeed...to bring the violence further down and enable confidence-building."

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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