Russia has sent military reinforcements to eastern Ghouta near Damascus and southwest Syria to support the de-escalation zones in order to enforce the Syrian military’s declaration of a ceasefire on Saturday.
“The measure will help maintain the ceasefire, allow unfettered access for humanitarian aid, and enable refugees and displaced persons to return,” said General Sergey Rudskoy, the spokesman for the Russian General Staff said at a press briefing.
The Russian Defense Ministry explained on Monday that it had set up two checkpoints and four observation posts in eastern Ghouta near Damascus as well as two checkpoints and 10 observation centers along the borders of a de-escalation zone in southwestern Syria.
“We have managed to halt fighting in two crucial areas of Syria,” Rudskoy claimed. He also explained that Russia deployed its military police to monitor both de-escalation zones.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights continued to report shelling in rebel-held areas of Homs on Sunday and Monday.
Neil Hauer, an expert on Russian-Syrian relations at SecDev, told War Is Boring in May that Russia has an estimated 10,000 troops in country.
The three guarantors — Iran, Turkey, and Russia — of the intra-Syrian peace talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana signed an agreement in May to establish four “de-escalation zones” within Syria in an attempt to stop the bloodshed after the six-year long civil war.
The guarantors started the Astana process in January after a December 30 ceasefire was agreed upon, but bombings continued, and humanitarian assistance has been difficult to deliver to many places of the war-torn country.
However, General Rudskoy revealed that the guarantors have now signed an agreement on forming a joint working group to help reduce tensions in Syria. The first meeting is expected to take place in the beginning of August.
Rudskoy also stated that efforts are ongoing to establish the next de-escalation zone in Idlib province.
The six-year-long civil war has killed at least 400,000 people, according to the United Nations. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed in May that he agreed with the intent of the zones.
“Of course, as a Russian initiative, it is correct in principle. As to whether it will produce results or not, that depends on the implementation,” he said.