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Putin: Full-scale assault on Syria’s Idlib ‘not expedient’

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A full-scale assault against militants in Syria’s Idlib province “is not expedient now” and civilians’ security needs to be taken into account, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.

Speaking in Beijing, Putin said Russia would work with the Syrian opposition to finalize the make-up of a constitutional committee, part of efforts to secure a political settlement of the conflict.

On Friday, a war monitor group said that air strikes by regime ally Russia killed 10 civilians in the region of Idlib in northwestern Syria.

On Friday, Russian negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev said that the Syrian government and armed opposition groups, together with both sides’ backers, could agree on the makeup of a constitutional committee in coming months.

Forming a constitutional committee is key to political reforms and new elections meant to unify Syria and end an eight-year war which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced about half of Syria’s pre-war population of 22 million.

Lavrentyev comments came following a fresh round of talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan.

Russia, a backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has taken a lead role in diplomatic efforts in Kazakhstan that has largely sidelined UN diplomacy.