President Vladimir Putin received Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in Moscow for the first time since 2015 on Monday and criticised foreign forces that are in Syria without a U.N. mandate, the Kremlin said, in a rebuke of the United States and Turkey.
Assad’s most powerful ally in the decade-long Syrian conflict, Putin last received the Syrian leader in Russia in 2018 at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Russia’s air force played a critical role in turning the tide of the Syrian conflict in Assad’s favour after it deployed there in 2015, helping him recover most territory lost to insurgents.
The United States tightened sanctions against Syria last year, saying they were aimed at forcing Assad to stop the war and agree to a political solution.
Syrian state news agency SANA said the two leaders discussed cooperation between the Syrian and Russian armies in “combating terrorism and completing the liberation of the land that is still under the control of terrorist organisations”.