Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Monday to try to come to an agreement over the Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib. Vladimir Putin said: “We have a lot of issues to discuss, including difficult ones,” Putin said at the start of the talks at his residence in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
Chased out of their own homelands and targeted in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, experienced foreign jihadists embraced Syria’s war as their own starting around 2013, two years into the conflict.
Many joined the Islamic State group but others stuck by Al-Qaeda and its former Syrian affiliate — which now leads the powerful Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance dominating Idlib.
Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded towns in Syria’s opposition-held Idlib province on Saturday, a day after a summit of the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia failed to agree on a ceasefire that would forestall a Russian-backed offensive. Witnesses and rescuers said at least a dozen air strikes hit a string of villages and towns in southern Idlib and the town of Latamneh in northern Hama, where rebels are still in control.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for a ceasefire in the rebel-held region of Idlib in northwest Syria on Friday and said an anticipated government assault on insurgents there could result in a massacre. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Moscow opposed a truce, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.