Putin: Assad May Be Willing to Work With Rebels to Fight ISIS

The Russian President issues the announcement after his meeting wtih his Syrian counterpart; Some Western governments have portrayed Russia as an obstacle to a political deal

Denis Dyomkin and Maria Tsvetkova
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Assad and Putin in 2006.
Assad and Putin in 2006.Credit: AP
Denis Dyomkin and Maria Tsvetkova

Reuters - Russian President Vladimir Putin said his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad had told him he was ready to talk to armed opposition groups if they are genuinely committed to dialogue and to combating Islamic State.

Speaking a day after Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow for talks with Putin -- underlining Moscow's new role as a central player in Syria's conflict -- Putin said the two men had talked about the need for a political solution.

Some Western governments have portrayed Russia as an obstacle to a political deal, especially since it started air strikes on Islamist groups in Syria opposed to Assad, including some backed by the United States and its allies.

But Putin said he believed that the military operation in Syria could create the right conditions for progress in talks on the future of the country.

"I will pull open the curtain a little on my talks with President Assad," Putin said at a forum in the Russian resort of Sochi on Thursday evening.

"I asked him: 'What view would you take if we found, now in Syria, an armed opposition which nonetheless was ready to oppose and really fight against terrorists, against Islamic State? What would be your view if we were to support their efforts in fighting Islamic State in the same way we are supporting the Syrian army'," Putin said.

"He answered: 'I would view that positively'," Putin said of Assad.

The Russian president went on: "We are now thinking about this and are trying, if it works out, to reach these agreements."

Putin also said that, at the root of the Syrian conflict was not just Islamist militancy but also internal tensions -- a recognition that at least some of the people who rebelled against Assad's rule had a legitimate grievance.

Russia has rejected Western calls for Assad to step down. On Thursday, Putin repeated his view that Syria's leadership could only be decided by the Syrian people, not outside powers, via transparent elections.

However, some observers believe Putin could use his enhanced influence over Damascus to pressure Assad into making concessions to the opposition, unblocking a peace process that has been at a virtual standstill for years.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage