Russia says Syria safe zones closed to US-coalition jets

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Russian lead negotiator on Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, May 4, 2017. (Reuters)
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Russian lead negotiator on Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura at the Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, May 4, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 06 May 2017

Russia says Syria safe zones closed to US-coalition jets

MOSCOW: Jets from the US-led coalition are barred from proposed safe zones in Syria set to be created under a deal inked by Russia, Iran and Turkey, Moscow’s envoy said Friday.
“In terms of their actions in the de-escalation zones, then from this moment these zones are closed for their flights,” Alexander Lavrentiev, the Kremlin’s envoy to peace talks in Kazakhstan, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
“Aviation operations, especially by the international coalition forces, are absolutely not envisioned,” he said.
Regime backers Russia and Iran and opposition supporter Turkey on Thursday signed a deal at talks in Kazakhstan to set up four safe zones in the war-torn country. The agreement did not explicitly mention the US-led coalition, which has been targeting Daesh, but Lavrentiev insisted that “flights cease over these territories.”
“We as guarantors will closely monitor all operations,” he said.
Moscow’s envoy said this means coalition air power can now only focus on “Islamic State (Daesh) targets that are located in the area of Raqqa, some populated areas in the region of the Euphrates, Deir Ez Zor and further on to the territory of Iraq.”
The exact boundaries of the proposed safe zones in Syria are yet to be defined but they are meant to focus on opposition-held territory.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is encouraged by the agreement, his spokesman said.
“It will be crucial to see this agreement actually improve the lives of Syrians,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Guterres “welcomed the commitments to ceasing the use of all weapons, particularly aerial assets” and to quickly deliver medical aid and basic necessities, said the spokesman.


Emirati soldier in Arab coalition fighting in Yemen killed in Najran

Updated 33 min 54 sec ago

Emirati soldier in Arab coalition fighting in Yemen killed in Najran

RIYADH: An Emirati soldier was killed in Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen on Wednesday. 
Corporal Tariq Hussein Hassan Al-Baloushi was serving with UAE forces as part of the coalition supporting the Yemeni government against Houthi militants.
The UAE General Command of the Armed Forces said the soldier died “performing his national duty in Najran as part of our forces’ participation in “Operation Decisive Storm” and “Operation Restoring Hope,” state news agency WAM reported.
No further details about his death were provided.
The general command extended its condolences and sympathy to the families of the soldier.
The Arab coalition, which includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain intervened in the war in Yemen to restore the internationally-recognized government after it was ousted by the Iran-backed Houthi militia in 2015.
Saudi Arabia’s border areas near Houthi held territory have faced constant attacks from rockets and missiles fired from inside Yemen.