The Syrian conflict has seen regular calls for the establishment ‘safe zones’, with the most concrete call having been to establish ‘de-escalation zones’ in mainly opposition-held areas of Syria. The reached agreement was argued to reduce levels of violence and enable the return of refugees.
This report by David Keen from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Durable Solutions Platform argues that such ‘safe zones’ in Syria would not be safe for civilians, as it would be impossible to guarantee their safety and protection in these areas. Previous attempts to establish ‘safe zones’ during violent conflicts indicate that such zones mainly served for political and military interests of conflict actors. Therefore, any agreement to a ‘safe zone’ from actors who are active in the conflict may imply plans to use it for military purposes.