Leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet for talks in Syria's future

Leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet for talks in Syria's future
Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin of Russia.

The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey have met in Ankara for talks on resolving the conflict in Syria.

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani were holding their second summit to discuss Syria's future since attending a similar meeting in Sochi, Russia, in November.

The leaders meeting in the Turkish capital are expected to reaffirm their commitment to Syria's territorial integrity and the continuation of local ceasefires.

Talks are also expected to include the issues of border security, the distribution of humanitarian aid and drawing up a constitution for the country.

Russia and Iran have provided crucial support to President Bashar Assad's forces, while Turkey has backed the rebels seeking to overthrow him.

The three nations have sponsored several rounds of talks between the Syrian government and the opposition, and brokered local truces in four areas, helping to reduce hostilities.

The leaders locked hands while posing for photos at the start of the meeting, but did not make opening remarks. Earlier, Mr Rouhani held separate bilateral meetings with Mr Putin and Mr Erdogan.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Meanwhile, the Russian military said it expects a rebel evacuation from the suburbs of the Syrian capital to be completed in the coming days.

The Russian Defence Ministry and Syrian rebels struck a deal on Sunday for the Army of Islam, the biggest opposition group in the Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta, to leave the area for the rebel-controlled north.

The rebels were still leaving the town of Douma, but the evacuation was expected to wrap up in the coming days, said Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy of the Russian General Staff.

Earlier, Russia's Defence Ministry said more than 3,000 rebels and family members had evacuated Douma since Sunday.

The evacuation comes after a five-week government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds of people and caused catastrophic damage in the besieged suburbs.

- PA

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