- Associated Press - Saturday, May 6, 2017

BEIRUT (AP) - The Latest on Syria developments (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

Russia’s Defense Ministry says its military chief of staff and the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff have confirmed their readiness to restore a communications channel aimed at preventing midair incidents between Russian and US warplanes over Syria.

Generals Valery Gerasimov and Joseph Dunford also discussed setting up further conflict-avoidance measures in a Saturday telephone call, the ministry said in a statement reported by Russian news agencies.

The call came as a Russia-initiated plan to set up safe zones was to take effect.

Russia suspended the communications channel last month after the United States fired a barrage of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base in response to the Syrian military allegedly using chemical weapons in an attack.


6:05 p.m.

Syrian opposition activists are reporting that government shelling of a suburb of the capital Damascus has killed four insurgents and wounded one child south of the country.

The casualties were the first to be reported Saturday after violence eased in wide parts of war-ravaged Syria despite sporadic violations and clashes after a deal to set up “de-escalation zones” in mostly opposition-held areas went into effect.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Ghouta Media Center said a child was wounded in government shelling of the Damascus suburb of Kfar Batna.

The Observatory and opposition activist Ahmad al-Masalmeh said four opposition fighters were killed in the southern province of Daraa after they were targeted by government forces.


9:50 a.m.

Syrian opposition activists and government media outlets are reporting relative calm in wide parts of Syria after a deal hammered out by Russia, Turkey and Iran to set up “de-escalation zones” in mostly opposition-held area went into effect.

Opposition activists in southern, central and northern Syria tell The Associated Press that there have been sporadic violations but the situation is by far much better than previous days with no airstrikes reported.

The plan, details of which will still be worked out over the next several weeks, went into effect at midnight Friday.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media reported on Saturday morning “relative clam” is prevailing the designated zones nine hours after the deal went into effect.

The plan is the latest international attempt to reduce violence in war-ravaged Syria.


8:40 a.m.

“De-escalation zones” set up in a deal between Russia, Turkey and Iran in mostly opposition-held parts of Syria have gone into effect.

The plan is the latest international attempt to reduce violence in the war-ravaged country, and is the first to envisage armed foreign monitors on the ground in Syria. The U.S. is not party to the agreement and the Syrian rivals have not signed on to the deal. The armed opposition, instead, is highly critical of the proposal, saying it lacks legitimacy.

The plan’s details will be worked out over the next several weeks. It went into effect at midnight Friday.

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