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.
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.
- U.S. backed forces strike Syrian mosque being used as ISIS command center
- Syria reports Israeli attacks near southern border
- Russia, Turkey agree on decisive action in Syria's Idlib
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia is going to raise its concerns at the talks about the presence of "terrorists" there.