Putin holds summit with Turkey, Iran to discuss Syria peace deal

By Ray Downs  |  Nov. 22, 2017 at 8:49 PM
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Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is in talks with leaders of Turkey and Iran to end the civil war in Syria that has been raging since 2011.

Putin held a summit in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Wednesday with Iran's Hassan Rouhani and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Two days prior, he hosted Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to discuss the possibility of a peace deal. The Russian leader has also had conversations with other parties involved in the conflict, including U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The militants in Syria have sustained a decisive blow and now there is a realistic chance to end the multi-year civil war," Putin said during the summit with Rouhani and Erdogan. "The Syrian people will have to determine their own future and agree on the principles of their own statehood. It is obvious that the process of reform will not be easy and will require compromises and concessions from all participants, including of course the government of Syria."

But brokering a peace deal to end the conflict "won't be easy," Putin said, according to Bloomberg. "It will require compromises and concessions from all sides, including the Syrian government."

Russia has backed Assad since intervening in Syria's civil war in 2015, so analysts assume a peace deal brokered by Putin will involve Assad staying in power, at least until a new round of elections to be determined at a later time. But Syrian opposition groups are not likely to easily approve such a deal.

Meanwhile, Erdogan doesn't want Syrian Kurds to have a say in the peace brokering because they are aligned with Turkish Kurds, which the Turkish government classifies as a terrorist group, the Guardian reported. But Syrian Kurdshave been instrumental in helping the U.S. military fight Islamic State groups within Syria.

Iran's Rouhani said any troops not invited into Syria should leave, a reference to U.S. troops, who have a large presence in the country.

And Israel also has demands, including pushing Iranian forces out of Syria's Golan Heights, located near its border with Syria.

Negotiations are expected to continue, including United Nations-sponsored peace talks in Geneva on Nov. 28.

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