Russia, Turkey, and Iran reached a deal on Thursday establishing “de-escalation zones” in several parts of Syria. While details of the plan remain sketchy, the Russians have announced today that the deal includes a wide ranging no-fly zone that will be imposed on U.S. and allied coalition planes. As the New York Times reports:
The diplomat, Aleksandr Lavrentiev, also suggested that Russian and Turkish warplanes would be prohibited from flying in four designated “de-escalation zones,” where Syrian government and rebel forces are supposed to stop fighting each other.
But Mr. Lavrentiev seemed to sketch out a broader geographical no-fly zone for American and coalition military planes. He said they would be allowed to fly only in eastern Syria over Islamic State-held areas, apparently excluding the entire western spine of the country.
The details of the plan remain incredibly vague. A no-fly zone isn’t mentioned in the text, which itself says that these de-escalation zones won’t be defined and mapped until June, and which has limited support from rebel groups. While Russian President Putin and President Trump discussed the de-escalation zones earlier this week, earlier reports of their discussion didn’t include a no-fly zone directed against the U.S.
Regardless of what these no-fly zones end up looking like, it’s nonetheless unusual to see Turkey, a NATO ally, endorsing a deal that the Russians and Iranians seems to believe would give them permission to shoot down U.S. and allied planes. The difference in the strategic interests of the U.S. and Turkey in Syria seems to grow wider by the day.