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Turkey and Our Birds
Russia, Turkey, and Iran Agree to Ban U.S. Planes in “De-Escalation Zones”

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.

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  • D4x

    Syria de-escalation zones? This is a ‘first step agreement’. None of this is final.

    • D4x

      This agreement sounds ok on paper, except the de-escalation zone maps still in progress until June 4, so is this a conceptual agreement until June 4? Sat May 6, 2017 | 7:24am EDT “Russia, Iran, Turkey set up Syria de-escalation zones for at least six months: memorandum Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in a memorandum signed on May 4 to establish four separate de-escalation zones in Syria for at least six months, according to a text detailing the agreement published by the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday.

      The largest de-escalation zone includes Idlib province and adjoining districts of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia provinces. The other three zones are in northern Homs province, the Eastern Ghouta region east of the
      capital Damascus and along the Jordanian border in southern Syria.

      The guarantors will finalize maps of the de-escalation zones by June 4, and the agreement can be extended automatically if the three guarantor states agree.

      The agreement envisages the halt of hostilities between Syrian government forces and armed opposition groups within the zones and the creation of conditions for humanitarian access, medical assistance, the return of displaced civilians to their homes and the restoration of damaged infrastructure.

      The guarantor states committed to take all the necessary measures to continue fighting Islamic State, Nusra and other groups both within and beyond the de-escalation zones.

      Political and armed opposition groups in Syria have rejected the proposal, saying Russia has been unwilling or unable to get President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian-backed militia allies to respect past ceasefires.

      (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Keith Weir)

  • This is a start. Whichever side you may feel the most sympathy for, the preservation of civilian lives should be everyone’s foremost priority right now.

  • Andrew Allison

    An exclusion zone requires the military power to enforce it, and the only weapons capable of doing so are Russian. Somebody should explain to Mr. Lavrentiev that the Pussy has left the White House.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The USA can join this effort, can cooperate somewhat silently with this effort, can verbally condemn this effort or can seek intentionally to provoke a physical confrontation with planes. I’d bet on some combination of the first three and not much of the fourth—-for now, anyway.

    • LarryD

      As Unelected Leader points out, we can fire cruse missiles. In theory, they can be shot down also. No pilots at risk. In practice… just how good are Russian air defenses?

  • Unelected Leader

    Even if this is well-intentioned, that’s a pretty big if, it’s far from finalized. Also, it doesn’t stop the U.S. Navy from launching cruise missiles wherever they desire. Sounds an awful lot like the Russians are setting themselves up for an Obama moment with a big pronouncement and then abject failure.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Send in the Drones, and boot Turkey from NATO. Are we still selling F-35’s to Turkey? That should end.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Well, if you REALLY want to screw the Turks….sell the MORE F-35s

  • f1b0nacc1

    I believe that the phrase “A plague on both your houses” is most appropriate here.

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