DAMASCUS -- Deputy UN Special Envoy for Syria Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy said here on Saturday that the cease-fire agreement reached Friday between the United States and Russia to quell fighting in southwest Syria is a "step in the right direction." In a press briefing held in Damascus, Ramzy said the US-Russian agreement for creating the de-escalation zones in southwest Syria is also an important development, adding that the UN support the efforts to de-escalate violence in Syria. "The agreement to create de-escalation zones in southern Syria...is an important development. The UN always aims to de-escalate tension and this is a step in the right direction. We hope that the other areas that have been discussed to be included in the de-escalation zones deal to reach similar agreement soon and that will support the political process," he said. A day earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the agreement, if it holds, may be a blueprint for other parts of the country. "This area in the south is our first show of success. We hope we can replicate that elsewhere," he said. Tillerson noted that there are more details to be discussed on the Russian side regarding who will provide the security forces to observe the cease-fire in that part, adding that such details will be finalized within a week. The de-escalation zones deal was established in Syria last May, with Russia, Iran and Turkey signing the deal. The US had no apparent role in the deal, which included four zones that will be included in the deal, namely Homs, Idlib, Daraa and Eastern Ghouta countryside of Damascus. The deal held up relatively well in Idlib, but in Daraa in southern Syria the situation got tense recently with renewed battles between the Syrian army and the rebels, which prompted Russia and the US to reach the agreement for southwestern Syria, which include Daraa and Qunaitera, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Qunaitera witnessed intense battles between the Syrian army and the rebels. Also, Israel struck Syrian military positions several times over the past two weeks. Still, the Syrian government hasn't officially commented on the new US-Russian agreement. 202mm to inches
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