"So far, three zones of de-escalation have been established: in the south along the border with Jordan, in Eastern Ghouta and to the north of Homs. Consultations on the fourth and most problematic de-escalation zone in the Idlib province are ongoing.
The idea of de-escalation zones took shape in May at the fourth Astana-format meeting, where guarantors signed a memorandum on this issue.
In July, Russia, Turkey and Iran, with help of Jordan and the United States as observers, tried to coordinate a whole range of specifics on the establishment of the four safe zones, but could not agree on all the details and sign the package of documents as a whole.
Since July, three out of four zones were coordinated and announced outside of the Astana framework.
Key attendees of the sixth international meeting on Syria in Astana will be the same as in previous gatherings. The Russian delegation will be headed by special presidential envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and include Director of Middle East and North Africa Department in the Foreign Ministry Sergey Vershinin and Gen. Stanislav Gadzhimagomedov." AMN
"The plan calls for the cessation of hostilities between rebel groups and forces fighting on behalf of Bashar al-Assad's government in four so-called de-escalation zones in mainly opposition-held areas of the country, with Russia, Turkey and Iran to act as guarantors.
The deal covers four general areas:
Zone 1: Idlib province, as well as northeastern areas of Latakia province, western areas of Aleppo province and northern areas of Hama province. There are more than one million civilians in this zone and its rebel factions are dominated by an al-Qaeda-linked alliance.
Zone 2: The Rastan and Talbiseh enclave in northern Homs province. There are approximately 180,000 civilians in this zone and its network of rebel groups includes al-Qaeda-linked fighters.
Zone 3: Eastern Ghouta in the northern Damascus countryside. Controlled by Jaish al-Islam, a powerful rebel faction that was participating in the Astana talks, it is home to about 690,000 civilians. This zone does not include the adjacent, government-besieged area of Qaboun.
Zone 4: The rebel-controlled south along the border with Jordan that includes parts of Deraa and Quneitra provinces. Up to 800,000 civilians live there.
The deal laid out the areas where rebels and government forces should halt hostilities, including air strikes, for six months. More than 2.5 million people are believed to live in the zones." Al-Jazeera
Among the many things I "don't get" is the whole de-escalation thing. If the de-escalation agreements were face saving ways for the rebels to surrender to the Syrian Government I could easily understand that, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
And now in this "process," we come to Idlib Province. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has succeeded in dominating the province. Dare I say that I insisted the province should be liberated in the weeks following the liberation of Aleppo City? Ah,well … HTS is al-Qa'ida in Syria. Do the Russians, Syrians, Turks, Jordanians and Americans (on the sidelines) really believe that HTS is going to make an agreement that it will keep? pl