Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to discuss the last remaining rebel strongholds in the Syrian province of Idlib with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a summit Sochi on Thursday.
The two leaders’ had brokered a cease-fireto create a demilitarized buffer zone in the region . However, an al-Qaida-linked faction has tightened its grip on the region in recent months, with Russia describing it as a “terrorist nest”
“Ankara promised Russia that Turkey would push out armed opposition forces from Idlib, but it could not keep its word,” Turkish expert Burak Bilgehan Özpetek.
Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and increasingly impatient about militants in Idlib.
“We will do all we can to help the Syrian government and its armed forces to solve the problem of liberating their territory,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.
Iran also provides massive support to the Assad regime, while Turkey is allied with various opposition groups.
Putin, Erdogan, and the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are also expected to talk about a special committee that would be tasked with drafting Syria’s next constitution. Previously, the UN admitted it was unable to create such committee as Damascus objected to the list of the proposed members.
Russia’s top diplomat Lavrov said that Iran, Turkey, and Russia had already presented their own list, but Western countries had “thrown spanners in the works of UN officials, in order to prevent the authorization of the list.” Moscow was “ready to search for a solution for this situation,” he added.