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Presidents of Iran, Russia, Turkey meet in Ankara to discuss Syria

The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey meet on Monday in the Turkish capital of Ankara to discuss a political resolution to Syria’s eight-year conflict.

The summit between Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, will focus on the issue of the northwestern province of Idlib, whose large parts in addition to parts of neighboring Hama constitute the last major militant stronghold in Syria.

Ankara and Moscow agreed last September to turn Idlib and parts of Hama province into a de-escalation zone.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Erdogan said Monday’s summit would aim to stop the influx of refugees from Idlib and establish a ceasefire in the region.

“The expectation here is not a momentary ceasefire. First, it is to put a stop to the migration here,” he said, adding “Second, to ensure a ceasefire here. Third, to seriously get terrorist organizations under control.”

The meeting will be held within the framework of the Astana Process, an initiative by Iran, Russia, and Turkey which mediate peace negotiations between representatives from the Damascus government and opposition groups in several rounds held in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) and other places since January 2017.

The talks, which are collectively referred to as the Astana peace process, have so far helped significantly reduce the violence by establishing four de-escalation zones in the counry. They have also paved the way for the formation of a “Constitutional Committee”.

The parallel UN-backed peace process in Geneva, however, has failed to deliver much.

The Syrian government troops, backed by Russian warplanes, have been regaining control of further areas once held by militants.

Thousands of Syrians returned to their villages and towns in the northern countryside of Hama province and the southern countryside of Idlib on Sunday as part of the government’s efforts to return the displaced to their hometowns over the past months.

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