MOSCOW, October 21. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said during a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, which took place in Moscow on Tuesday, that Damascus achieved positive results in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group [banned in Russia].
Assad arrived in Moscow on the first trip abroad since the civil war began in Syria in 2011.
"The Syrian people have been resisting practically single-handedly, fighting with international terrorism for several years now. They are sustaining heavy losses, but recently they have achieved significant positive results in this struggle," the Kremlin’s website quotes Putin as saying.
During the meeting, the Russian leader cordially welcomed Assad, noting that, in spite of the dramatic situation in Syria, he responded to Moscow’s request and came to Russia. "We made a decision in accordance with your request and are providing effective assistance to the Syrian people in the fight against international terrorism, which has unleashed a real war against Syria," Putin said.
The Russian president also said Moscow is concerned about the participation of nationals coming from the former Soviet states in the fighting against Syria’s government forces.
"This concerns us, I mean Russia, as unfortunately on the Syrian territory there are descendants of the former Soviet republics with arms in hands against the government forces, there are around 4,000 of them, at least," the Russian leader said.
Putin noted that "the attempts of the international terrorism to put under control significant territories in the Middle East and to destabilize the situation in the region arouse legal concerns in many countries of the world."
The Russian leader stressed that Russia’s authorities cannot allow that these people return to the country after receiving combat experience and ideological training.
Russia is ready to make its contribution not only to the fight against terror in Syria, but also in the political settlement in contact with other powers and with the participation of all political forces, ethnic and religious groups, Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Bashar Assad.
"With regard to the settlement in Syria, we proceed from the assumption that based on the positive dynamics in the combat operations, the long-term settlement can be finally achieved through a political process with the participation of all political forces, ethnic and religious groups," the Russian leader said as quoted on the Kremlin website. Putin also said that ultimately, "the Syrian people certainly must have the final say."
The Russian president said that Syria is a friendly country to Russia. "We are ready to make a fair share of contribution not only in the fight against terrorism, but also in the political process — of course, in close contact with the other world powers and with the countries of the region that are interested in the conflict’s peaceful settlement," Putin said.