Putin: Syrian regime must take over after US leaves

Putin: Syrian regime must take over after US leaves
Russian leader Putin said the "only right solution" is for the Syrian government to receive the territories supervised by US troops due to leave by April.
2 min read
15 February, 2019
President Putin hosts Turkey and Iran in Sochi to discuss Syria peace settlement [Getty Images]
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian leader Hasan Rouhani said the Syrian government must take over the regions where US troops are currently positioned, at a news conference after talks about a Syria peace settlement.

The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran discussed the impending withdrawal of US troops when they met in Sochi on Thursday at Russian-hosted talks.

"The only right solution will be to transfer those territories under the Syrian government's control," Putin said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the US pullout should not lead to a "power vacuum".

US troops in Syria are preparing to leave by April, after President Donald Trump announced in December he would withdraw all those deployed.

The three countries also agreed to take further steps to stabilise the Idlib province in Syria.

President Putin told the leaders of Turkey and Iran that militants in Syria's Idlib must be "eradicated" and called on the two countries to "consider concrete steps" to destroy "the hotbed of terrorists."

Russia and Turkey, backing Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Syrian opposition respectively, agreed last year on a cease-fire for Idlib.

This prevented a major government offensive but Russia is now losing its patience with the deal as al-Qaeda linked militants seize towns and villages in the province.

President Erdogan also said on Thursday the only way to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria is for Kurdish forces to be pushed out of Manbij and regions east of the Euphrates River.

Turkey aims to create a buffer zone in northeastern Syria, to protect its border from Syrian Kurdish militia it considers "terrorists".