Moscow, Ankara and Tehran see US withdrawal a 'positive step' for Syria. Divisions on Idlib
Erdogan, Putin and Rouhani in favor of the exit of the United States. Moscow announces unspecified "measures" against the "terrorist outbreak" in the north. But at the moment there are no joint military operations planned. For Erdogan it is essential to limit the Kurds.
Sochi (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Yesterday's meeting in Sochi, Russia, between President Vladimir Putin his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan ended with unanimous consensus on the withdrawal of US troops by President Donald Trump as a "positive" for the future of Syria.
The three leaders also noted that uncertainties remain about the future of Idlib in the north, the last stronghold in the hands of the anti-Assad opposition and jihadist groups.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the Kremlin leader stressed that Russia has not seen any changes to date that could confirm the withdrawal of US troops from Syria. According to Putin, President Trump is not able at the moment to keep electoral promises because of internal political disputes.
Moscow also talks about unspecified "measures" - a formula used in past meetings - taken by Iran, Turkey and Russia to clean up the Idlib area, which Putin calls a "terrorist outbreak". However, the Kremlin states that no military operations against opponents and jihadists in the north are scheduled - in the immediate future.
Iran, Russia and Turkey have armed forces in Syrian territory. Although on opposite sides (Teheran and Moscow close to Damascus, while Ankara supports the anti-Assad movements), the three countries more than UN diplomacy have managed to loosen the grip of a conflict that has caused almost half a million victims and seven million refugees.
On the eve of the meeting, the Kremlin had asked for the green light to act against Islamic extremist groups. "We must not accept the presence of terrorist groups in Idlib," Putin said, addressing Erdogan and Rouhani. "This is why - he added - I hope for significant steps" that the three countries must take in coordination with each other.
In response, the Iranian leader has confirmed full support while Erdogan calls for more circumspection. The goal of the Turkish president is always the Kurds, who thanks to the support of US troops in these years of war have conquered increasing portions of territory, especially in the north-east of the country. Ankara fears that Kurdish expansionism can strengthen the goal of an autonomous nation straddling Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
In the press conference at the end of the summit the three leaders returned to the announced withdrawal of US forces, a "positive step" that "will help stabilize the situation in the region".