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Russian President Putin says de-escalation zones crucial for Syria

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN SAYS DE-ESCALATION ZONES CRUCIAL FOR SYRIA

De-escalation zones in Syria are crucial for Syria's territorial integrity, the Russian president said Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Vladimir Putin stressed Turkey's importance in establishing de-escalation zones in certain areas of Syria's.

"The de-escalation zones expected to be established in Idlib and Syria cannot be created without Turkey's support," Putin said.

During May talks in Kazakh capital Astana, Turkey (which supports the Syrian opposition) agreed with Russia and Iran (which support the Assad regime) on a plan to establish a network of "de-escalation zones" in different regions of war-torn Syria.

According to the agreement, the zones -- in which acts of aggression are nominally prohibited -- would cover the city of Idlib and certain parts of the Latakia, Homs, Aleppo and Hama provinces, along with Damascus, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and Quneitra.

The Russian president said the U.S. view of the Syrian conflict was becoming "more pragmatic" and stressed for joint action with the U.S.

"There's an understanding that we can achieve a lot by joining forces," Putin said.

Concerning the PKK's Syrian affiliate YPG, Putin said Russia was "in contact with some Kurdish groups" in Syria.

"However, the U.S. is far more ahead of us about arming these armed elements and doing it in bigger volumes," he said.

Following a Dec. 30 cease-fire, the first round of Astana talks was held on Jan. 23-24, brokered by Turkey -- which backs the opposition -- and Russia and Iran, which support the Bashar al-Assad regime.

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