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Russia deploys military police at 'safe zone' in Syria


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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has deployed military police to monitor the cease-fire in a safe zone in the eastern suburbs of Syria's Damascus, the chief of the Russian General Staff said on Monday.

Russia has been providing air cover for Syrian President Bashar Assad's offensive against the Islamic State group since 2015 and previously deployed a military police force to patrol the city of Aleppo last year.

Russia, Iran, which supports Assad, and Turkey, which backs rebels fighting his forces, in May approved a plan to create four "de-escalation" zones in Syria, pressing Assad's air force to halt flights over designated areas across the war-torn country.

Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi told a news conference Monday that Russia set up two checkpoints and four monitoring posts in one of the zones, in the area known as eastern Ghouta. The Russian Defense Ministry last week said that the Syrian government and the opposition reached an agreement on the boundaries of the zone, several days after bombardment and airstrikes in the area.

Rudskoi also said the Syrian government and the opposition are still discussing the boundaries of another zone in Idlib province in northern Syria where there is a large al-Qaida presence.

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