Iran, Russia, Turkey Leaders Meet 09/16 06:07
The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey are to meet in the Turkish capital of
Ankara on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, with the aim of halting
fighting in the country's northwestern province of Idlib and finding a lasting
political solution to Syria's civil war, now in its ninth year.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey are to meet in
the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, with
the aim of halting fighting in the country's northwestern province of Idlib and
finding a lasting political solution to Syria's civil war, now in its ninth
Topping the agenda of the meeting is the volatile situation in Idlib --- the
last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria --- where a cease-fire went into
effect at the end of August, following a wide four-month offensive by
The cease-fire has been holding despite some violations that left six people
dead last week. A major conflict in Idlib has raised the possibility of a mass
refugee flow to Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians, some already displaced from other parts of
the war-torn country, have moved toward Turkey's border to flee Syrian
airstrikes, backed by Russia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Turkey could "open
its gates" and allow Syrians already living in his country to flood Western
countries if Turkey is left to shoulder the refugee burden alone.
Monday's talks are the fifth trilateral meeting among countries that stand
on opposing sides of the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran's
Hassan Rouhani are key allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad while Turkey
backs Syrian rebels seeking to oust him.
A major offensive was averted last September when Erdogan and Putin agreed
in the Russian resort town of Sochi to set up a demilitarized zone in Idlib and
open two major highways. Those plans, as well as a Turkish pledge to tame armed
groups in Idlib, dominated by the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, have
Despite divergent interests in Syria, Erdogan and Putin have been building
closer ties, having met seven times in 2019 alone. Russia has delivered two
batteries of the S-400 surface to air missile systems to Turkey and the two
countries are cooperating on energy deals.
The three leaders were also expected to take up Turkish and American plans
for a so-called "safe zone" in northeastern Syria, to meet Turkish demands for
U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces that Ankara considers terrorists, alleging
they have ties to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey, pushed farther from its
Ankara is also lobbying for a plan to resettle displaced Syrians in
Turkey-controlled zones across northern Syria.