On September 13th, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
For the first time in 5 years the meeting took place in Moscow.
Putin congratulated his counterpart on winning May’s presidential election.
Putin also praised President Assad’s renewed grip on the country after a decade of fighting.
The Kremlin quoted the Russian president as saying:
“Terrorists had sustained a very serious damage, and Syrian government, headed by you, controls 90% of the territories.”
However, he reportedly warned that foreign forces being deployed in Syria without a decision by the UN were a hindrance to its consolidation.
“I believe that the main problem lies in the presence in some parts of the country of foreign armed forces without any mandate from the United Nations or your permission, which clearly runs counter to international law and undermines your ability to use your best efforts to consolidate the country and promote recovery at a pace that would have been possible, if the legitimate government controlled the entire country.
Regrettably, there are still some pockets of resistance, where the terrorists not only control part of the territory but also continue to terrorise peaceful civilians. Nevertheless, refugees are actively returning to the liberated areas. I actually saw during my visit, which I made at your invitation, that people are working hard to rebuild their houses and resume a peaceful life in every sense of the word.”
President Assad also thanked Putin for sending aid to Syria and efforts to halt the “spread of terrorism”, the Kremlin said.
“Our two armies, the Russian and Syrian armed forces, have been striving for and have achieved considerable results not only in the liberation of the territories occupied by the militants and in wiping away terrorism, but they have also facilitated the return of the refugees, who had to flee from their homes and their country.
Since international terrorism knows no borders and is spreading around the world like a virus, I can testify that our two armies have made a huge contribution to the protection of humankind from this evil.”
He praised what he called the success of Russian and Syrian armies in “liberating occupied territories” of his country and described Western sanctions as “antihuman” and “illegitimate”.
Syrian state television said the leaders were later joined by Syria’s foreign minister and Russia’s defence minister for discussions on fighting terrorism and mutual relations.
Support from Russia has helped President Assad regain nearly all the territory lost during the conflict.
Hundreds of its troops remain in Syria and there are frequent repots of Russian warplanes carrying out frequent airstrikes on both Greater Idlib militants and the terrorist pockets in Central Syria.
In recent weeks there’s been a ramping up in activity. A ground operation is also expected in Greater Idlib, but there’s no significant movement as of midday on September 14th.