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There are reasons to believe terrorists in Syria will be wiped out soon — Putin

October 19, 19:16 UTC+3

But this is not the reason to be glad and think that they have been eliminated once and for all, the Russian leader noted

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SOCHI, October 19. /TASS/. There are reasons to believe that terrorists in Syria will be wiped out soon, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the final full-scale session of the international discussion club Valdai on Thursday.

"There are grounds to expect (I’d be cautious) that we will soon finish off the terrorists there (in Syria), but this is not the reason yet to be glad and think that they have been eliminated once and for all," he added.

He explained that terrorism as a phenomenon had deep roots. "It stems from the injustices of the modern world, many peoples and ethnic and religious groups suffering from deprivation, and the lack of systematic education." All this, he said, created a favorable environment for terrorism.

"If we wipe out the terrorists’ pockets of resistance in Syria, this will not mean that the threat to Syria, to the region and to the whole world no longer exists. One should always be on guard," Putin said.

He believes that the settlement process in Syria is gaining momentum, although certain problems remain.

"It is proceeding positively by and large. In cooperation with Turkey, Iran and the Syrian government we managed to bring the parties closer on the main issue - that of ending bloodshed. De-escalation zones are the most significant result of all work done in Syria over the past two years and the Astana process in particular," he said.

Putin added that a considerable role was played by other countries, although they were not directly involved in the Astana talks, but nevertheless were invisibly present and caused effect on the ongoing processes, including the United States.

"With the US partners we maintain constant cooperation along this track. It is stable, no easy, not without disputes, but yet this cooperation has more positive aspects than negative ones. So far we have been able to agree on many things, including the southern de-escalation zone, there where the interests of Israel and Jordan overlap," he said.

He also remarked that the settlement process would have never been what it was today without positive influences caused by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and many other countries.

Putin hopes setup of de-escalation zones won’t lead to Syria’s division

The setup of de-escalation zones may lead to Syria’s division, but Russia hopes that cooperation of all forces in the country will allow to prevent it, Putin said.

"Such a threat exists, but I would like this to be not the division of Syria, but on the contrary, after the establishment of de-escalation zones, the people who will control the situation in these zones, could start building contacts with Damascus, with the Syrian government, which is already happening in many areas," Putin said.

As an example, Putin referred to a territory south of Damascus, which is under control of the armed opposition, where citizens go to work to Damascus every day, and then return home, and "life still forces them to communicate."

"I very much hope that such practice will develop in other de-escalation zones, and it will gradually begin at the everyday level, at the economic level, so this cooperation inevitably grows into long-term political agreements," Putin added.

According to him, difficulties in the search for ways out of crisis involving the Syrian government and opposition cause concern. "There are many obstacles in the process, the opposing sides do not trust one another," the Russian leader noted. At the same time, Putin expressed hope that these difficulties would be overcome. "Following the establishment of de-escalation zones, we hope to move on to the next stage. There is an initiative to set up a congress of the Syrian peoples, involving all the ethnic and religious groups, as well as the government and opposition. If this is done with the support of the guarantor countries, it would mark the next step on the way to finding a political solution and drawing up a new constitution, but it is too early to talk about that," Putin concluded.

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