Putin assures Assad 'all foreign armed forces' will leave Syria

Putin assures Assad 'all foreign armed forces' will leave Syria
Russia's Vladimir Putin has told Syria President Bashar al-Assad that 'all foreign forces' will soon leave the war-torn country.
2 min read
18 May, 2018
The two leaders met in Russia's Sochi [AFP]
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad that foreign forces would be leaving his country.

A CNN report quoting Syria's state news agency said the meeting took place during Assad's surprise visit to the Russian city of Sochi.

"We presume that, in connection with the significant victories and success of the Syrian army in the fight against terrorism, with the onset of a more active part, with the onset of the political process in its more active phase, foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic," Putin said, according to SANA news agency.

Russia and the Syrian regime refer to the Assad opponents as "terrorists".

The two allies praised the "the start" of a "political process", which will end the war in Syria which began in 2011.

Russia entered the Syria war in 2015, and helped turn back a series of defeats for the Assad regime.

Russian airstrikes helped the Syrian regime and its foreign militia allies win a series of victories on the rebels and Islamic State group.

But the campaign has also been criticised for the mass killing of civilians and targeting of schools, hospitals, and homes.

Assad is also heavily reliant on the ground of Iranian-led foreign fighters from Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan militias, along with Lebanon's Hizballah.

In the north, the US, Turkey and France also have troops.

Israel is concerned about the Iranian and Lebanese military build-up in Syria and has launched dozens of strikes against targets in the country.

It has stepped up its attacks on Iranian bases in Syria in recent weeks, with the acquiesce of Russia.

Moscow has also cemented a military presence in Syria, with the build-up of at least two Russian bases in the country.