Putin: Syria peace process a priority, but remaining terrorists must be destroyed

Putin: Syria peace process a priority, but remaining terrorists must be destroyed
Setting up the committee to draft a new Syrian constitution is a priority, but eliminating the remaining “radical elements” in the country remains an important objective, Russia’s Vladimir Putin said at the Istanbul summit.

“While the degree of violence in Syria has been greatly reduced, elimination of all the radical elements is still an important task,” President Vladimir Putin said, speaking after the four-way Syria summit with leaders of Turkey, France and Germany. “We cannot allow the battle-hardened bandits to carry on with their illicit activities, to create “sleeper cells” in our countries, recruit supporters and spread extremist ideology and terror.”

Turkey is sticking to its commitments over the Idlib ceasefire deal, Putin said, but added that Ankara has not yet been able to force all the radicals in the region to comply with the agreement. Russia’s leader expressed hopes that the ceasefire will be fully implemented in the future.

If the terrorists continue to launch attacks from Idlib, Moscow reserves the right to provide armed support to the Syrian government to clear the region by force, Putin stated.

While the Idlib agreement is very important, it still is a “temporary measure,” he said. Lasting peace can be only brought through a political solution, the Russian president stressed, adding that the committee to draft a new Syrian constitution is expected to begin its work before the end of the year.

“The fate of the country must be ultimately decided by the Syrian people,” he added.

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