Russia, Turkey and Iran will coordinate their efforts in Syria to combat Islamic State after military chiefs reached an agreement for the scheme, Russian Defense Ministry said.
On Wednesday, presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran will meet in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss peace talks to resolve the bloody conflict in Syria. The talks are expected to center on a political solution as well as to clear the hurdles before an earlier framework for de-escalation zones agreed by the three countries in September.
According to a statement by Russian Defense Ministry, military chiefs of the three countries met in Sochi before Wednesday meeting.
They discussed “concrete steps to complete the elimination of the remaining” ISIS and Nusra Front elements in Syria. They also agreed to improve coordination in de-escalation zone in Idlib province where Turkey deployed forces as part of a previous deal reached between three countries.
In an unexpected move, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi in the same day.
President Putin informed him and tried to secure his assent for possible accords that might occur during the Wednesday meeting, according to Russian Defense Ministry.
The trilateral meeting appears to be a testimony to the change in positions of countries. Turkey was at loggerheads with Iran and Russia for their unflinching support for the Syrian leader as Ankara long clamored and pressed for his downfall.
Rapid shifts in the battleground and emerging new priorities pushed Turkey to work closely with Russia and Iran in Syria.
While once appeared on the brink of collapse, the Syrian regime and Mr. Assad’s hold on power now remain solidified with a string of battlefield victories against rebels. Russia and Iran’s military support were vital factors to swing the pendulum of the war for the Syrian president who now seeks to regain international legitimacy, moving from a pariah status to an acceptable leader.
Pro-regime forces won another key battle against ISIS militants in their last major stronghold in Syria. ISIS fighters now only control a tiny stretch of territory in the desert and outside the capital.