The presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran met in the Iranian capital of Tehran on September 7 to discuss the issue of the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib, which is controlled by several radical groups, including the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
During the meeting, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country can’t accommodate any more refugees and proposed a truce in Idlib as a solution. However, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin rejected the proposal and noted that any truce will be pointless as it would not involve radical groups such as HTS and ISIS.
“I think in general the Turkish president is right. It would be good. But I can’t speak for them, and even more so can’t talk for terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra [HTS] or ISIS that they will stop shooting or stop using drones with bombs,” President Putin said according to the Reuters news agency.
Despite failing to reach an agreement on Idlib issue, the three leaders stressed in the final statement of the summit that separating moderate opposition fighters from terrorists and protecting civilians are essential steps for stabilizing the northern Syrian governorate.
“Separating the aforementioned terrorist organizations from the armed opposition factions that have joined or will join the system of cessation of fighting will be of vital importance in order to avoid casualties among the civilians,” the leaders said in the final stamen of the summit.
Russia, Turkey and Iran also rejected any attempts to divide Syria under the pretext of fighting terrorism and vowed to support the U.N. sponsored peace process in the country.
“We are determined to continue active cooperation to advance the political process in line with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Conference in Sochi and Security Council Resolution 2254,” the statement reads.
The inability of the sides to agree on a final solution of the Idlib issue may lead to an escalation in northwestern Syria. Some sources expect that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies may even launch a military operation against terrorist groups in the region despite an open opposition of Turkey.