Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a political solution to the war in Syria, during Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad’s rare visit to Russia, according to BBC News.
The two leaders met in Sochi yesterday to discuss completing the military campaign in the country; Russian support in the past two years has given Syria an upper hand in the conflict.
“We still have a long way to go before we achieve a complete victory over terrorists. But as far as our joint work in fighting terrorism on the territory of Syria is concerned, this military operation is indeed wrapping up,” Putin said.
“I think that now the most important thing, of course, is to move on the political questions, and I note with satisfaction your readiness to work with all those who want peace and a solution [to the conflict].”
The meeting took place just days before the Russian President is scheduled to discuss further Syria end game strategies with Turkey and Iran, both of whom are heavily involved in the conflict and have cooperated to enforce de-escalation zones in certain area of Syria.
Al-Assad claimed that the Syrian government was ready to move forward with a political solution having “achieved victory over the terrorists”, but also emphasised that it would determine Syria’s course without foreign influence.
“We count on the support of Russia to ensure the non-interference of outside players in the political process,” he emphasised.
Putin said yesterday that he would provide updates on the meeting to US President Donald Trump, as well as officials from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is thought that Saudi Arabia, which has backed the Syrian opposition, will encourage the new negotiating team to abandon the requirement of resistance groups, namely that Al-Assad step down as part of the political transition.
Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, more than half a million people are believed to have been killed, the vast majority by President Bashar Al-Assad’s government and allied forces. The regime has also used chemical weapons against civilians and prevented aid from reaching those affected on the ground. UN officials estimate that some ten million people have been displaced as a result of the fighting.