HAMBURG, Germany — The United States and Russia struck an agreement Friday on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, crowning President Donald Trump's first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is the first U.S.-Russian effort under Trump's presidency to stem Syria's six-year civil war.

The cease-fire goes into effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, according to U.S. officials and the Jordanian government, which is also involved in the deal.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who accompanied Trump in his meeting with Putin, said the understanding is designed to reduce violence in an area of Syria near Jordan's border and which is critical to the U.S. ally's security.

It's a "very complicated part of the Syrian battlefield," Tillerson told reporters after the U.S. and Russian leaders met for about 2 hours and 15 minutes on the sidelines of a global summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Of the agreement, he said: "I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria."

For years, the former Cold War foes have been backing opposing sides in Syria's war. Moscow has staunchly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad, supporting Syrian forces militarily since 2015. Washington has backed rebels fighting Assad. Both the U.S. and Russia oppose Islamic State militants and say they're focused on rooting out the extremist group.

Russia's top diplomat, who accompanied Putin in the meeting with Trump, said Russian military police will monitor the new truce. All sides will try to ensure aid deliveries to the area, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

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Smoke rises from buildings following a reported air strike on the rebel-held town of Ayn Tarma, in Syria's eastern Ghouta area, on July 7, 2017.
Photo Credit: Amer Almohibany/AFP via Getty Images
The deal marks a new level of involvement for the Trump administration in trying to resolve Syria's civil war.

Trump ordered some 60 cruise missiles to be fired at a Syrian air base in April after accusing Assad's forces of a deadly chemical weapons attack. But his top military and national security advisers pointedly said they had no intentions of intervening to oust Assad. And they stopped short of endorsing Russian-led or U.N. peace mediation efforts between Assad's government and rebel groups.

Israel also is part of the agreement, one U.S. official said, who like others wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter ahead of Tillerson's official announcement and demanded anonymity. Like Jordan, Israel shares a border with the southern part of Syria and has been concerned about a spillover of violence as well as an amassing of Iranian-aligned forces in the south of the country.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani confirmed an accord involving his country, the U.S. and Russia. He made no reference to Israel's participation. Syrian government forces and its allies will stay on one side of an agreed demarcation line, and rebel fighters will stick to the other side. The goal is also to enable aid to reach this area of Syria, Momani told state media.

The deal is separate from an agreement that Russia, Turkey and Iran struck earlier this year to try to establish "de-escalation zones" in Syria with reduced bloodshed. The U.S., wary of Iran's involvement, stayed away from that effort. Follow-up talks this week in Kazakhstan were unable to produce agreement on finalizing a cease-fire in those zones.

Previous cease-fires in Syria have collapsed or failed to reduce violence for long, and it was unclear whether this deal would be any better.

Tillerson said the difference this time is Russia's interest in seeing Syria return to stability. It's an argument top U.S. officials such as former Secretary of State John Kerry cited regularly amid his failed efforts to end a conflict that has killed as many as a half-million people, contributed to Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II and allowed IS to emerge as a global terror threat.

Tillerson also repeated the U.S. position that a "long-term role for the Assad family and the Assad regime" is untenable and voiced his belief that Russia might be willing to address the future leadership of Syria, in tones reminiscent of Kerry. Up to now, Assad has rejected any proposals that would see him leave power, contributing to an impasse that has prolonged Syria's suffering.

Earlier in the week, Syria's military had said it was halting combat operations in the south of Syria for four days, in advance of the new round of Russian-sponsored talks in Kazakhstan. That move covered the southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida. Syria's government briefly extended that unilateral cease-fire, which is now set to expire Saturday — a day before the U.S. and Russian deal was to take effect.

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, walks after they entered the western front of the Islamic State (IS) group's Syrian bastion of Raqa after seizing the area on June 11, 2017.
Photo Credit: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images
The U.S.-Russian cease-fire has no set end date, one U.S. official said, describing it as part of broader discussions with Moscow on lowering violence in Syria.

The agreement may also reflect Iran's increasingly prominent role in Syria.

Washington has been resistant to letting Iranian forces and their proxy militias gain strength in Syria's south, a position shared by Israel and Jordan. Friday's deal could help the Trump administration retain more of a say over who fills the power vacuum left behind as the Islamic State is routed from additional territory in Syria.

In recent weeks, U.S. forces have shot down a Syrian aircraft that got too close to American forces as well as Iranian-made drones. A renewed government offensive against Western-backed rebels and Islamic militants in the contested province of Daraa also is sparking tensions, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters have shifted south to join the fight.

Israel has also struck Syrian military installations on several occasions in the past few weeks after shells landed into the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights Golan Heights. Ahead of the deal, media reports in Israel have suggested unease at any arrangement that relies on Russia policing areas near its frontier.

Implications for Syria aside, the deal marks the biggest diplomatic achievement for the U.S. and Russia since Trump took office. Trump's administration has approached the notoriously strained relationship by trying to identify a few limited issues on which the countries could make progress, thereby building trust for a broader repair of ties.

Earlier in the week, Syria's military had said it was halting combat operations in the south of Syria for four days, in advance of a new round of Russian-sponsored talks in Astana. That move covered southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida. Syria's government briefly extended that unilateral cease-fire, which is now set to expire Saturday — a day before the U.S. and Russian deal would take effect.

The new agreement to be announced Friday will be open-ended, with no set end date, one U.S. official said, describing it as part of broader U.S. discussions with Russia on trying to lower violence in the war-ravaged country. Officials said the U.S. and Russia were still working out the details as Trump and Putin concluded their more than two-hour meeting on Friday.

Implications for Syria aside, the deal marks the biggest diplomatic achievement for the U.S. and Russia since Trump took office. Trump's administration has approached the notoriously strained relationship by trying to identify a few limited issues on which the countries could make progress, thereby building trust for a broader repair of ties.

For years, the U.S. and Russia have been backing opposing sides in Syria's war, with Moscow supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Washington supporting rebels who have been fighting Assad. Both the U.S. and Russia oppose the Islamic State group in Syria.

The U.S. has been resistant to letting Iran gain influence in Syria — a concern shared by Israel and Jordan, neither of which wants Iranian-aligned troops amassing near their territories. A U.S.-brokered deal could help the Trump administration retain more of a say over who fills the power vacuum left behind as the Islamic State is routed from additional territory in Syria.

Though U.S. and Russian officials had been discussing a potential deal for some time, it didn't reach fruition until the run-up to Trump's meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in Germany, officials said.

Yet ahead of the meeting — Trump's first with the Russian leader — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled that Syria's civil war would be high on the agenda and potentially the most fruitful area for cooperation given the dismal state of relations between the U.S. and Russia overall.

Tillerson said in a statement before departing for Germany that the U.S. remained open to cooperating with Russia through "joint mechanisms" to lower violence in Syria, potentially including no-fly zones.

"If our two countries work together to establish stability on the ground, it will lay a foundation for progress on the settlement of Syria's political future," Tillerson said on Wednesday.

The Trump administration has struggled to determine how actively to involve itself in Syria's civil war, beyond the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State group there. Although Trump has backed away from the previous U.S. administration's steadfast demand that Assad leave power, the limited U.S. military forces on the ground in Syria have grown more assertive in recent months, especially as the prospect that IS will soon be defeated has increased the urgency of discussions about Syria's political future.

In recent weeks, U.S. forces have shot down a Syrian aircraft that got too close to U.S. forces as well drones believed connected to Iranian-backed forces aligned with Assad — another sign of U.S. concern about Tehran's influence in Syria. Earlier this year, Trump also ordered airstrikes for the first time against Assad's forces, aiming to punish him for using chemical weapons.

Some of those steps have deepened the rift between the U.S. and Russia over Syria, complicating efforts to work together. Russia, which has bolstered Assad through an aggressive air campaign in recent years, had troops at the Syrian air base when the U.S. struck. And after the U.S. shot down the Syrian plane, Russia warned it would start considering U.S.-led coalition aircraft over Syria as potential targets.

Tensions have been on the rise recently in southern Syria amid a renewed government offensive on the contested province of Daraa where western backed rebels as well as Islamic militants challenge the Syrian government's control. Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters have shifted south after the Russian-backed cease-fire that was announced in May and have been getting closer to the border with Jordan, raising concerns in the kingdom.

Israel has also struck Syrian military installations on several occasions in the past few weeks after shells landed into the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights Golan Heights.

Salama and Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Zeina Karam in Beirut, Lebanon, contributed to this report.

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