Russia Urges Caution on U.S. Plan for Safe Zones in Syria

This photo provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service shows Russian air force Tu-22M3 bombers strike Islamic State group targets in Syria on Tuesday. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service Photo via AP)

The Kremlin said Thursday that a U.S. plan for safe zones in Syria should be thoroughly considered.

Asked to comment on a draft executive order that President Donald Trump is expected to sign this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said it was important to “weigh all possible consequences” of the measure.

Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters that the U.S. hasn’t consulted with Russia on the subject and noted that “it’s important not to exacerbate the situation with refugees.”

While suspending visas for Syrians and others, the order directs the Pentagon and the State Department to produce a plan for safe zones in Syria and the surrounding area within 90 days. It includes no details.

Safe zones, proposed by both Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton during the campaign, were ruled out by the Obama administration for fear it would bring the U.S. into direct conflict with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russia, which has been waging an air campaign to aid Assad’s forces since September 2015.

In October the Russian military specifically warned the U.S. against striking Syrian government forces, saying its air defense weapons in Syria would fend off any attack.

Russia has welcomed Trump’s pledge to mend ties with Moscow and potentially partner with it against the Islamic State and other terror groups.

But Trump has provided few details about how he plans to approach Syria’s complex conflict, and the Kremlin, which was bitterly at odds with the Obama administration, has said that rebuilding trust will take time.

Peskov said no agreement has been reached on a Trump-Putin phone call and there have been no contacts between their administrations yet beyond routine diplomatic exchanges.

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