Turkey, Russia, Iran to meet for 6th round of Astana process

Diplomats, army and intelligence officials from Turkey, Russia and Iran came together in Kazakhstan’s capital a day before of the sixth round of Astana Process talks, which will be held in a bid to discuss the establishment of de-conflict zones inside Syria for cementing cease-fire in the war-torn country, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Sept. 13. 

Apart from the three guarantor countries, representatives from the Syrian government and opposition groups will join the Astana talks on Sept. 14 and 15, the agency reported. 

The Turkish delegation is being led by deputy undersecretary Ambassador Sedat Önal, Russia’s delegation is being led by President Vladimir Putin’s Syria representative Alexander Lavrentiev, and Iran’s delegation is being led by deputy Foreign Minister Hussein Cabiri Ensari. 

In a statement to the press, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emphasized the importance of these meetings in Astana and said developments were “in the right direction” for a ceasefire in Syria. 

According to an earlier statement by the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry, the main agenda of these meetings will be works for the establishment of four de-conflict zones in Syria. The participants will reportedly discuss the boundaries of de-conflict zones in Idlib, Humus and eastern Guta, the establishment of a coordination center and the release of prisoners and hostages. 

Idlib, a northern Syrian town near the Turkish border, has been under the control of jihadist terrorist organization since this summer. There is no agreement yet on how the truce will be surveilled after de-conflict zones are established.  

At a meeting in early May in Astana, the three guarantor countries had agreed on declaring de-conflict zones in regions where clashes between regime and opposition groups are intense. They later established a joint working group in another meeting in July on the same plans. 

Opposition groups have complained about frequent violations of ceasefires by regime forces around east Guta and Humus. They are expected to voice their criticism of these violations at Astana, calling on the guarantor countries to pay more attention to the continuation of the truce.

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