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    Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leader Nasr al-Hariri arrives to take part in a round of negotiations with UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura (no pictured), during the Intra Syria talks, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland May 16, 2017

    Syrian Opposition's HNC Welcomes De-Escalation Zone, Hopes for Extension

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    Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee welcomes the establishment of the de-escalation zone in Syria's south, recently brokered by Russia and the United States, and hopes it would be extended to the rest of the country, HNC’s spokesman Yahya Aridi said Sunday.

    GENEVA (Sputnik) — Immediately after the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart Donald Trump on July 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the experts from Russia, the United States and Jordan had agreed on a memorandum on the establishment of a de-escalation zone. It covers Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda provinces  in southwestern Syria. Thus, Moscow and Washington pledged to ensure the implementation of the ceasefire in that region starting from July.

    "De-escalation of hostilities in the south is important, because the main concern of our people is to have peace and freedom. To get rid of terrorism…We want this thing [de-escalation] from the south to be extended to the whole Syrian geography. If it brings peace to the south, and if it extends to the other parts of Syria, it's important for us," Aridi told reporters.

    The spokesman also expressed hope that the parties to the Syrian conflict will be able to achieve progress in the Syrian crisis settlement at the upcoming UN-led intra-Syrian talks, which will start in Geneva on July 10.

    “We hope that something will come out of this round, although the expectations are quiet low. We felt that there is an international serious endeavor and effort to bring peace and tranquility in Syria, especially in light of what happened in the south," Aridi said.

    At the  latest international meeting on Astana, which took place earlier in the week, three ceasefire guarantor states – Russia, Turkey and Iran – with help of Jordan and the United states as observers, tried to coordinate a whole range of specifics of the establishment of four de-escalation zones in Syria. They could not agree on all the details and sign a package of documents, but committed to continue work at the expert level.

    The High Negotiations Committee was formed in late 2015 at a conference held in Saudi Arabia and serves as one of Syria's major opposition blocs.

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    de-escalation, Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Syria
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