WASHINGTON: On Wednesday, the secretary of state Rex Tillerson stated that the United States is willing to work with Russia on establishing “no-fly zones” in Syria as part of a joint effort to stabilize the war-ravaged country..
In a wide-ranging statement, Tillerson said Russia had a “special responsibility” to help create stability on the ground — or risk hobbling the fight against the Islamic State group.
Citing past cooperation in creating deconfliction zones in Syria, Tillerson made a strong case for both countries — in spite of their “unresolved differences on a number of issues” — to work together in Syria.
“The United States is prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones, on the ground ceasefire observers, and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance,” he said.
Tillerson issued his statement as US-backed fighters inched forwards in Raqqa’s Old City, in what Washington sees as a milestone in the campaign to defeat Islamic State in its de facto Syrian capital.
Russia, Turkey and Iran — without the US — agreed in May to establish four “de-escalation” zones in Syria. These are supposed to include no-fly areas, where no warplanes can fly so as to guarantee the safety of civilians on the ground.
But on Wednesday, those countries said they had failed to agree on the details, such as the boundaries of the zones and who will police them.
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