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Putin, Erdogan, Rohani set for Sochi summit on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Johannesburg, July 26, 2018. (en.Kremlin.ru/Released)
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This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The leaders of Russia, Iran, and Turkey are scheduled to meet in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 14 to discuss the situation in Syria, according to Turkish and Russian state media.

The reports on February 3 did not give full details of the planned meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Hassan Rohani of Iran.

But Russia’s NTV broadcaster said the leaders will discuss the situation around the so-called deescalation zone around Idlib in Syria and the pending withdrawal of U.S. troops from the war-ravaged country.

The three countries have said they want a political solution to end the seven-year civil war in Syria.

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Moscow and Tehran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey and the United States back differing rebel groups.

Several rounds of negotiations over recent years have failed to end the fighting, which has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, displaced millions, and devastated many historic sites across the country.

U.S. forces are set to depart from Syria where they worked closely with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey considers to have terrorism links.

U.S. President Donald Trump has received criticism from Republicans, Democrats, and some foreign officials for what they have called a hastily planned withdrawal of the 2,000 U.S. troops, with many saying it leaves Kurdish allies at the mercy of the Turks and hands a victory to Russia and Iran.

Turkey has threatened to attack the United States’ Kurdish allies fighting Islamic State militants in Syria. Ankara views the Kurds as terrorists with ties to insurgents within Turkey.

On January 14, Trump threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if Ankara attacks the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

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