09/17/2019, 10.31
M. EAST - RUSSIA
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Russia, Iran and Turkey united for peace in Syria, divided on the jihadist threat

In yesterday's meeting in Ankara Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani called for "lasting" ways to end the conflict. The Turkish president calls for a greater assumption of "responsibility". The humanitarian issue and the fears of a new wave of refugees. Moscow worried by a new rise of ISIS.

Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Seeking "lasting" ways of peace, in the face of a new escalation of the Syrian conflict, recently sharpened by attacks by Syrian government forces against rebels and jihadists in the northwest.

This was the goal of the latest summit held yesterday in Ankara between the host, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and the Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin. However, despite the common commitment to a de-escalation of the war, they appear to differ on the steps to be taken and, above all, on the current consistency of the threat of the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis).

Erdogan spoke of a "period" in which "a greater assumption of responsibility for peace in Syria" is demanded and the "greatest burden to carry" to put an end to the eight years of conflict is "ours" [the reference is to Turkey, Russia and Iran]. Among the three leaders, he added, there is the common opinion that a "political solution" is increasingly needed to resolve the crisis in Syria.

In yesterday's meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Russia and Iran - on opposing fronts in the conflict, with Ankara close to the rebels, while Tehran and Moscow support Damascus - t agreed on the need to ease tension in Idlib, the last jihadist and rebel stronghold of the Country. In the joint statement released in the evening the three leaders said they were alarmed at the risk of a possible deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the north-western Syrian province, bordering on Turkey. In this regard, "concrete steps" must be taken to stop the violations of the truce negotiated in the past between the three nations.

The reference is to the outcomes of the Astana talks of the past, in which an agreement was reached in principle for a truce in Idlib for humanitarian reasons. However, on several occasions the two fronts have violated the ceasefire and the danger of a serious escalation that could trigger a new exodus of refugees across the border and towards Europe is real.

However, divisions remain in the face of jihadist groups, especially the Islamic State. "Of course we are worried about the situation in the north-east of Syria, where there are dormant ISIS cells that are emerging," said Russian President Putin. A note arrived just minutes away from Erdogan's words, according to which the only threat in the area is represented by Kurdish militant groups.

In the press release there are no references to the attacks on weekend oil refineries in Saudi Arabia. However, Iranian President Rouhani spoke of a "Yemeni " response to the aggression taking place in their country. They are exercising, he added, "the legitimate right to defense [...] to an aggression that has been going on for years".

Rouhani then added that diplomacy is the only means and the only possible solution to end the crisis and asked the United States to withdraw troops from the north-east of the country. However, the focus remains on Idlib where the three leaders need to "normalize" the situation and respond to the refugee emergency.

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