Assad Meets Putin As War Continues In Syria

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew to Russian leader Vladimir Putin's summer residence on the Black Sea for talks on Thursday about the Syrian conflict, the Kremlin said, a visit that underscored Moscow's status as Assad's chief backer.

A posting on the Syrian presidency's Facebook page said the two leaders consulted on various issues of mutual interest and the latest political and military developments in Syria.

Assad previously visited Russian Federation and met Mr Putin in November 2017 and October 2015.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran have reached an agreement on holding the next high-level meeting on Syria in Russian resort city of Sochi in July 2018.

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Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

"The next task, of course, the economic recovery and humanitarian aid for those people in a hard situation", Mr Putin added.

"Stability is growing, and all this opens the door to a political process that we started some time ago", he said.

"We know it will not be easy because some countries do not want stability to return to Syria. However, we will continue to move steadily toward the peace process and for the sake of peace", Assad stressed. He thanked the Russian military for playing an important role in the fight.

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"And of course, the next task is economic recovery and humanitarian assistance to the people who found themselves in a hard situation", the Russian president said.

The visit comes on the eve of a meeting in Sochi between Mr Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the first face-to-face talk of the year between the veteran leaders.

De Mistura, speaking Wednesday to the UN Security Council's monthly meeting on the Syria conflict, described what he called the classic Syrian regime tactic of a bombardment of a rebel territory followed by negotiations and then mass evacuations from the defeated area.

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