by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday hosted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Moscow, for their first meeting since 2018, Reuters reports. Putin used the occasion to rebuke the US and Turkey for having troops in Syria without a UN mandate.
In its quest for access to warm water ports, Russia became a powerful ally of Assad’s: Putin helped the Syrian dictator to recover most of the territory he lost to rebels during the ten-year-long devastating civil war in Syria, Reuters notes. Putin said in a statement about Monday’s meeting that Assad has recovered 90% of the lost territory, although the UN Commission of Inquiry reports that figure is closer to 70%.
Currently, however, Turkey has a strong military presence in the north and northwest of Syria, in order to support remaining anti-Assad rebels, Reuters said. Meanwhile, the US has forces in the east and northeast of the country, in support of Kurdish-led militias.
According to a statement issued by the Kremlin on Tuesday, Putin told Assad that the presence of Turkish and US forces in the country was Syria’s main problem. That the forces are there without a UN mandate, Putin said, “clearly runs counter to international law,” Reuters reports.
Assad considers the US and Turkey to be occupying forces: accordingly, Putin told Assad that the presence of foreign forces “undermines your ability to use your best efforts to consolidate the country and promote recovery at a pace that would have been possible if the legitimate government controlled the entire country.”
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