Staged Videos Shot in Syria to Show Shelling Aftermath — Russian Reconciliation Renter

HMEIMIM- Camera operators working for the Al-Jazeera television broadcaster were shooting ‘staged videos’ of the aftermath of shelling and airstrikes in Syria last week, the Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria said on Saturday, according to Itar Tass.

"According to some sources among local civilians and from opposition units, special ‘video teams’ were shooting ‘staged’ films in the populated localities of Serakab and Jisr-al-Shuqur over the past week about the aftermath of purported shelling and airstrikes, including with the use of ‘toxic substances’," the statement said. "Moreover, local people recognized TV camera men, known for shooting news for the Al-Jazeera TV channel in the area, among ‘advisers to ‘video teams’."

US Backing for So-called 'Moderate Opposition' in Syria Remains Obstacle to Peace Process

The creation of four de-escalation zones in Syria, backed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, offers the conditions for political reconciliation, but US backing for what is called “moderate opposition" groups is an obstacle to political resolution, military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told RIA Novosti.

While Russia has done everything in its power to enable a political agreement, US support for what it calls "moderate opposition" could present an obstacle to last week's ceasefire agreement in Astana, editor-in-chief of the Russian magazine "Arsenal of the Fatherland," Viktor Murakhovsky, told RIA Novosti.

"The crux of the issue is to implement a ceasefire across Syria, or at least most of it. Russia has done everything it can to contribute to this, simultaneously destroying radical terrorists, aiding the reconciliation process with guarantees and influencing the Syria government and its allies so that they also keep to such agreements," Murakhovsky said.

Russia - Brokered De-Escalation Zones Deal Restores Relative Calm to Syria

Relative calm has been reported across most parts of Syria after a deal to set up de-escalation zones in the country went into effect.

According to media outlets on Saturday, there were no immediate reports of casualties after a memorandum signed by Turkey, Iran and Russia, took effect at the stroke of midnight local time on Saturday (2100 GMT on Friday). The co-sponsors have until June 4 to finalize the zones' borders.

The Syrian Central Military Media reported that there was "relative calm" Saturday morning in the de-escalation zones; nine hours after the deal went into force.

JCPOA Great Achievement, Global Development, Says Darmanovic

Belgrade - Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic in meeting with Iran’s new accredited Ambassador to Montenegro Hossein Molla Abdollahi praised Iran’s rich culture and old civilization and called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) a great achievement for Iran.

He also said that JCPOA was an important development for settling the most complicated international crises in the contemporary history and congratulated Iranian government and nation for this success.

During the meeting which took place on Friday evening, Darmanovic added that he is eagerly following up developments in Iran and is ready to visit Tehran.

Russia Satisfied with OPCW Conclusions Sulphur Mustard Gas Used in Syria by Terrorists

MOSCOW- Russia is satisfied with conclusions included in the OPCW mission’s report that sulphur mustard gas was used in the Syrian village of Maarat Umm-Hawsh in the Aleppo region, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

"The conclusions we had made along with our Syrian counterparts that terrorists used sulphur mustard in the populated locality of Maarat Umm-Hawsh have been fully confirmed at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). We state this with satisfaction," the ministry said, according to Itar Tass.

Charpentier: You Will Never Find 'Kafraya' and 'al-Foua' in French Media

The French political analyst Pierre Charpentier has criticized the international community for turning a blind eye to the reality of events in Syria, wondering why it has intentionally hindered reaching the reality there.

He said in an article published by the Canadian 'Mondialisation' website: "Recently, terrorists perpetrated two crimes in towns of Kafraya and al-Foua and in Khan Sheikhon area in Idlib province. These crimes must be investigated because they amount to war crime. However, the international community's condemnation of these crimes was too timid."

Lavrov: US Welcomes Creation of Syria De-Escalation Zones at Astana Talks

MOSCOW- Washington has welcomed the memorandum on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria signed in the recent round of the Syria settlement talks held in Astana that took place on May 3-4, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Mir television channel in an interview, Sputnik reported.

Lavrov said "it is not a coincidence that the United States has welcomed the result of the Astana meeting — an agreement to create de-escalation zones," , because according to Lavrov "the United States itself has called for stopping fight in the areas of clashes as to create conditions for the safety of civilians.

OPCW Team Starts Investigation into Allegations about Using Chemical Weapon in Syria's Idleb

THE HAGUE— An international team has started investigation into allegations about the use of chemical weapon in Khan Sheikhoun in Idleb countryside, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Uzumcu said Friday.

Uzumcu told The Associated Press in an interview that the team, made up of experts from his group and the United nations, is already working.

"They have some staff, up to 15 I guess, who have started working in our premises here," Uzumcu said. "And we will of course share all available information about recent incidents with them."

An initial report by an OPCW fact-finding mission is expected next week. It will not apportion blame, but aims to establish whether chemical weapons were used.

The Russian foreign ministry said Thursday that reaching a conclusion on the alleged use of chemical weapon without visiting the alleged chemical attack site is similar to the analysis fabricated by radicals from the so-called "Syrian opposition".