Putin in Syria peace bid with Iran, Turkey

Russia and Turkey back different sides in the Syria war and their relations were severely strained after Turkish jets shot a Russian warplane down near the Turkish-Syrian border in 2015.

The Kremlin spokesman also pointed out that "Putin does not have a Twitter account".

During a short visit to a Russian air base in Syria, where he was greeted by President Bashar al-Assad, Putin said Russia's military had achieved its mission and would head home shortly.

In a speech to the troops, Mr Putin said he had ordered the military to withdraw a "significant part" of the Russian contingent in Syria. He gave the command during a surprise visit to Khmeimim Airbase in Syrias Latakia province on Monday morning.

The third and final stop of Putin's excursion was North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey, where the focus was Syria, energy issues and the sale of the advanced Russian S-400 air missile defense system to Ankara.

The commander of Russian troops in Syria, Sergei Surovikin, said 23 planes and two helicopters as well as special forces and medical units will return home in the near future.

Mattis said that was part of the United States changing the composition of its forces to support diplomats to bring an end to the war.

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Putin, who was welcomed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the troops had helped the Syrian army crush the 'most battle-ready group of global terrorists, ' apparently referring to the Islamic State group.

Although Turkey and Russian Federation have been on opposing sides of the conflict, the two countries have reportedly been working together to end the conflict.

"The Syrians will never forget what the Russian forces did", official Syria media quoted him as saying.

Negotiations are continuing in Geneva and Astana and the position of Russian Federation will surely be a game changer for a brokered peace, according to experts. The Turkish president, who had pressed for the ousting of Assad, now no longer insists on his removal as a precondition of peace talks. Erdogan said during his meeting with Putin that a second meeting should be held in Sochi with Iran and Russian Federation this week, after a first meeting was organized in the Black Sea resort three weeks ago. The order to withdraw follows the defeat of “the most battle-hardened grouping of global terrorists” by the Russian and Syrian militaries in the space of two years.

The announcement comes after the defence ministry said last week that Russian Federation had "completely liberated" Syria from the Isil, despite reports that the jihadist group still controls some remote territory in the country. "The territory of Syria has been completely liberated from fighters of this terrorist organization", he told reporters.

"YPG represents only a fraction of Kurds in Syria".

  • Adam Floyd