Russia Hosts Turkey and Iran for Talks on Syria Peace Agreement

Russia tells Turkey they cannot create a safe zone in Syria without consent from Assad despite having brokered a deal in December to create a demilitarized zone in the northwest Idlib region

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani in Sochi, Russia, February 14, 2019
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani in Sochi, Russia, February 14, 2019Credit: \ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting the leaders of Turkey and Iran for talks about a Syria peace settlement as expectations mount for an imminent and final defeat of the Islamic State group.

During the summit Russia told Turkey it had no right to create a "safe zone" inside Syria unless it sought and received the consent of President Bashar Assad, signalling tensions as a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict began.

But, speaking ahead of the start of the Sochi summit on Syria, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Ankara would need Assad's green light to create any safe zone inside Syrian borders.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspect a military honor guard before their talks in Ankara, Turkey, February 11, 2019.Credit: AP

Russia, a key backer of Assad, is getting increasingly impatient about militants in Syria's Idlib province.

Russia and Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition, had brokered a cease-fire for Idlib, the last remaining rebel stronghold that averted a major government offensive but that deal has been strained as al-Qaida-linked militants seized towns and villages in Idlib.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia is going to raise its concerns at the talks about the presence of "terrorists" there.

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