Assad has the right to retake Idlib, says Putin in Tehran

Erdogan warns against hasty move with 'terrorism' as excuse

07 September, 20:12

    The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Tehran The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet in Tehran

    ISTANBUL - The Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad has the right to retake control of the entire country including the Idlib region, Russian president Vladimir Putin said at a summit on Friday in Tehran with Iran and Turkey.

    Putin added that, in Syria, ''the terrorists are only in Idlib'' now. ''Our top priority is to eliminate terrorists entirely in Syria,'' Putin said. ''Recently, with the assistance of Russian air forces, the southwestern part of the country has been liberated. The aim in this phase is to kick the fighters out of Idlin. Their presence is a direct threat to Syrian civilians and the inhabitants of the entire region.

    Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan instead said that ''no hasty move must be made in Syria with the excuse that it is part of a fight against 'terrorism'.'' The comment was in relation to the insistence by Iran and the Syrian government that in fighting Syrian opposition groups they are ''fighting terrorism''. Iran and Russia support the Syrian regime, which has called opposition groups a ''festering abscess'' to be eliminated, while Turkey has thus far supported opposition groups and spoken out against all attacks by the Syrian regime on Idlib while warning against the possible consequences if the conflict continues, including even more Syrians fleeing and seeking refuge in Turkey. In the press conference after the talk, Erdogan reiterated that his country already has 3.5 million Syrian refugees in it and that the Idlib region has another 3.5 million people in it. ''Turkey does not have the strength or the ability to welcome another 3.5 million'' refugees, he said.

    Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said that ''US intervention in Syria must end immediately'' and stressed the importance of cooperating with the Assad regime. He added that ''the bloodshed in Syria is about to end''.

    The final declaration of the summit stated that ''there can not be a military solution to the conflict in Syria'' and that a solution must be sought only through a negotiated political process.

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