Putin to host Erdogan, Rouhani for Syria summit in early 2019

Putin to host Erdogan, Rouhani for Syria summit in early 2019
Moscow intends to host the summit between the Russian, Iranian and Turkish leaders over the ongoing conflict in Syria in the first week of the year.
2 min read
28 December, 2018
The three leaders meet several times a year to discuss the Syrian conflict [Getty]

Moscow has announced its plan to host the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey early next year to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria

The announcement comes after the United States declared it was withdrawing troops from the country claiming the Islamic State group had been defeated.

"It's our turn to host the summit... around the first week of the year. This will depend on the schedules of the presidents," Russia's deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov was cited as saying by Interfax news agency.

The meeting will form the latest stage of the Astana peace process - set up in early 2017 in response to failing UN-led peace efforts, by Russia and Iran. The two allies support President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, whereas Turkey backs what is left of the Syrian opposition.

The Astana process was launched after Russia's military intervention in Syria tipped the balance in the Damascus regime's favour and has since gradually eclipsed the UN-sponsored negotiations framework known as the Geneva process. 

Read more: Trump discussed 'highly coordinated' US withdrawal from Syria with Erdogan

The last meeting between Russia's Vladimir Putin, Iran's Hassan Rouhani and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan took place in Iran in September with the fate of the rebel-held Idlib province dominating the agenda.

An agreement between Putin and Erdogan for the Russian-backed Syrian regime to refrain from launching a full-blown offensive against Idlib has proved somewhat successful, with the province remaining under rebel control until now.

Some 3 million people, including 1 million children, reside in Idlib after being displaced from other areas of Syria.

US President Donald Trump made a shock announcement earlier this month saying he was pulling out some 2,000 American soldiers from Syria, falsely claiming the Islamic State militants had been defeated.

Although the anti-IS offensive led by the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia has retaken much of the territory once controlled by the militants, they still hold swathes of territory in Syria's western desert and along the Euphrates river.

The militants continue to launch sporadic and deadly attacks against civilians and military forces.

However the move was welcomed by Putin, who seeks to rid Syria of anti-regime influence.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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