Foreign forces being deployed in Syria without a decision by the United Nations are a hindrance to its consolidation, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Bashar al-Assad, the president of the Middle Eastern nation on Monday.
The Kremlin said the comments came during a meeting of the two men in the Russian capital, after Putin congratulated Assad on his win in Syria’s presidential election.
Russia’s air force played a critical role in turning the tide of the Syrian conflict in Assad’s favor after it deployed there in 2015, helping him recover most territory lost to insurgents.
However, significant parts of Syria remain out of state control, with Turkish forces deployed in much of the north and northwest - the last major bastion of anti-Assad opposition forces - and US forces in the Kurdish-controlled east and northeast.
Assad, who has also been backed by Iran during the conflict, has made few trips abroad since the war began in 2011.
Putin told Assad that foreign forces in Syria without a UN decision were a hindrance to its consolidation, the Kremlin said. Putin also congratulated him on winning a fourth term in office in a presidential election in May.
“Terrorists sustained very serious damage, and the Syrian government, headed by you, controls 90 percent of the territories,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement.
The Kremlin said Assad thanked the Russian leader for humanitarian aid to Syria and for his efforts to halt the “spread of terrorism.”
He lauded what he called the success of Russian and Syrian armies in “liberating occupied territories” of Syria.
Assad also described as “antihuman” and “illegitimate” sanctions imposed by some nations on Syria.
The United States tightened sanctions against Syria last year, saying they were aimed at forcing Assad to stop the war and agree to a political solution.
Syrian state news agency SANA said the two leaders discussed cooperation between the Syrian and Russian armies in “combating terrorism and completing the liberation of the land that is still under the control of terrorist organisations.”