Sunday, July 9

Israel source: Iran on board with US-Russia truce in Syria. No word from Iran.

Well, we hope for the best. The "new" US-Russia brokered ceasefire (which actually takes over from a Syrian ceasefire scheduled to end yesterday) goes into effect at noon Damascus time, little more than two hours from now, U.S. Eastern time.  

DEBKAfile Special Report

July 8, 2017, 8:29 AM (IDT)

The most striking aspect of the first Trump-Putin face to face in Hamburg Friday was Iran’s presence behind their agreement to impose a ceasefire starting Sunday in SW Syria.

“The United States, Russia and regional countries reached a ceasefire deal in southwestern Syria,” a US official said on Friday, July 7 after the Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin ended their hotly-anticipated first encounter in Hamburg. He was referring to Iran and its consent to a ceasefire going into effect Sunday, July 9.

DEBKAfile reports that this was a significant breakthrough in one the most volatile fronts of the six-year Syrian war with direct impact on Israeli and Jordanian security. Our sources reveal that Tehran was persuaded to come on board this limited ceasefire in urgent phone conversations ahead of the summit between Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Iran’s National Security Adviser Adm. Shamkhani.

Russia and Iran are the main international backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad while Washington supports some of the rebel groups fighting for his ouster.

Tehran’s consent to giving up the military operations it has been sponsoring along Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan is no doubt part of a US-Russian tradeoff for Iranian gains on other Syrian fronts which would be of equal or greater value to its interests.

For Iran, the big gain would be its military control of the eastern front along the Syrian-Iraqi border, as the key to opening up its coveted land corridor from Iraq into Syria.

“Still a lot of work to be done,” the US official said

Reporters expected US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to provide more details of the deal, including how the US and Russia proposed to extend the ceasefire in southwestern Syria to other war fronts.

The limited deal struck by Trump and Putin provides Israel and Jordan with a partial measure of relief, because Iran will certainly be allowed to complete its military intervention in other parts of Syria in return.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who attended the summit along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, was upbeat: “I think this is our first indication of the US and Russia being able to work together in Syria, and as a result of that, we had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on to de-escalate the areas and the violence.

Tillerson went on to say: “Once we defeat ISIS, we will work together toward a political process that will secure the future of the Syrian people.” He added: “We see no long-term future for Bashar Assad.”


From TASS, Russia's news agency, today:

Experts of three countries completed coordination of a memorandum on establishment of the de-escalation zone in Southwest Syria, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.

WASHINGTON, July 9. /TASS/. The US Administration believes an agreement on establishment of a de-escalation zone in Southwest Syria is an important step towards settlement of the conflict in this Arab nation, national security advisor to the US President Herbert McMaster said in a statement released on Saturday.

"The United States remains committed to defeating ISIS, helping to end the conflict in Syria, reducing suffering, and enabling people to return to their homes," the official said. "This agreement is an important step toward these common goals," McMaster added.

The US is encouraged by progress achieved with Russia and Jordan in establishment of a de-escalation zone in Southwest Syria, McMaster said.

"Such zones are a priority for the United States, and we’re encouraged by the progress made to reach this agreement," he said. The agreement is scheduled to take effect at noon Damask local time, the official added.

"After achieving this hopeful step with the governments of Russia and Jordan, President Trump discussed the agreement with many world leaders at the G20 Summit, including President [of Turkey Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, Prime Minister [of the United Kingdom Theresa] May, and Chancellor [of Germany Angela] Merkel," McMaster said.

Experts of three countries completed coordination of a memorandum on establishment of the de-escalation zone in Southwest Syria, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.



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