The United States and Russia are quietly holding talks on creating a "de-escalation zone" in southwestern Syria, Western diplomats and regional officials said, but could face fierce opposition from Iran.
The Russian and U.S. special envoys for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev and Michael Ratney, and other officials have met at least twice in the Jordanian capital Amman in the past two weeks and will talk again soon, the officials and diplomats said.
The talks are at an early stage of discussing the boundaries of the proposed de-escalation zone in Deraa province, on the border with Jordan, and Quneitra, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, they said.
Diplomats say the talks could represent a major new attempt by Washington and Moscow, Syria's main foreign backer, to reach an understanding on how to end six years of conflict which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, estimates has killed close to half a million people.
Iran, Russia and Turkey brokered a deal in the Kazakh capital, Astana, in May to create four de-escalation zones in Syria. But the United States wants no role in the southwest, Russia's ally in the war, the diplomats said.