Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed on Thursday that the large-scale combat operations in Syria are over, stressing the importance of a political settlement to solve the crisis in the country.
"Indeed, large-scale combat operations are over but it is impossible to reach a final solution through military activities, whatever result they may yield. So, today it is time for political settlement and this is what we are steadily doing," he said.
Putin was speaking at the final plenary session of the 16th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, which was attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Jordan’s King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said most of the country was freed from terrorists within several years and the level of violence has drastically decreased.
Putin added that his country has done so much to establish the constitutional committee in Syria.
“This idea, by the way, emerged here, in Sochi, during a large-scale event that was attended by delegates representing both the government and practically all opposition forces," he said.
Separately, tension renewed on Thursday between Washington and Ankara concerning the safe zone in northeast Syria and the possibility that Ankara launches a military operation east the Euphrates River.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the US wasn't sincere about cooperating in northeastern Syria.
“We think this ongoing process with the United States will not take us to the point we desire. The information coming from the field proves this,” the minister told Turkish television Wednesday.
He added that his country must take steps to clear the terrorist organizations from its vicinity and return refugees there.
Also on Thursday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that if there is stalling or a delay in the process to set up a safe zone in northern Syria, Turkey is ready to single-handedly take the reins.
However, US military officials are attached to their country’s relationship with Kurds.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, quoting a US source, that US officials are increasingly concerned that Turkey soon will mount a major incursion into northern Syria and trigger a clash with Kurdish fighters, an action that would likely prompt the US administration to remove US forces from Syria to avoid the conflict.