The parties reached agreement after two days of talks in Astana. AFP / Stanislav FILIPPOV
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Russia, Iran and Turkey struck a deal Friday to jointly police a fourth "safe zone" around Syria's Idlib province as part of a Moscow-led plan to ease the six-year conflict in the country.Regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey agreed in May to set four "de-escalation zones" in rebel-held territory around Syria to halt fighting between the government and moderate opposition.Since then Russia has forged ahead with establishing three of the zones by deploying military police to patrol the boundaries of safe areas in the south of Syria, in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and in part of the central Homs province.Some observers have viewed the Astana process as a means for Russia, Iran and Turkey to keep the West on the sidelines of any resolution to the Syrian conflict, which has already led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.The deal comes as Syrian government forces pressed their offensive in the province of Hama Friday in an attack aimed at clearing central Syria of Daesh militants, opposition activists and state media said.The capture of Al-Bogheliyah came a week after government forces broke a nearly three-year siege by Daesh on a government-controlled part of the city and a nearby air base.
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