Safe Zones

In the most basic terms, safe zones are “areas designated by agreement of parties to an armed conflict in which military forces will not deploy or carry out attacks,” according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). In some cases, they can also include “no-fly” zones, which would bar all parties from using the airspace for operations. In theory, a safe zone is a pocket of safety surrounded by conflict in an otherwise hostile environment.

In principle, safe zones are meant to provide protection for civilians, but in the case of Syria they have been considered for a multitude of other reasons – including returning refugees, stopping the flow of civilians fleeing to neighboring countries and enabling foreign or local powers to exert control over an area.

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