MOSCOW/TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey will hold a video conference on Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Syria, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
In Syria’s nine-year war, Russia and Iran are the main foreign supporters of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in their battle against terrorists, while Turkey backs anti-government militants. Under a diplomatic process dating back to 2017, they agreed to work to de-escalate fighting.
Wednesday’s talks between Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan were scheduled for around 1100 GMT, the Kremlin said.
Turkey and Russia agreed in March to halt hostilities in northwest Syria’s Idlib region.
Two weeks ago, Russia and Turkey postponed bilateral ministerial-level talks which were expected to focus on Syria and Libya, another country where they support opposing sides.
In a post on his Twitter account on Tuesday, the Iranian presidential office’s deputy chief for communications and onformation Alireza Moezi said the three presidents would "discuss regional and international developments pertaining to Syria.”
Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said the presidential meeting would be held to facilitate peace in Syria within the framework of the Astana peace process.
Syria is currently hamstrung between the foreign-backed terrorism and the escalating corornavirus outbreak amid a U.S. sanctions regime.
The United States imposed its most brutal sanctions ever against Syria to choke off the country’s revenue and stop its advances against foreign-backed terrorists.
The toughest round of sanctions comes at a time when Syria is grappling with an economic
crisis after a decade of war and the coronavirus pandemic.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has said the sanctions are aimed at reviving terrorism in Syria and forcing Damascus to turn its back on the anti-Israel resistance front.
Muallem stressed that the new sanctions do not include any exemptions, and adversely affect the imports of food, medicine and medical devices.
Syria has already been under U.S. and European Union sanctions that have frozen the assets of the state and hundreds of companies and individuals. Washington already bans export and investment in Syria by Americans, as well as transactions involving oil and hydrocarbon products.
But the new sanctions can freeze the assets of anyone dealing with Syria, regardless of nationality, and cover many more sectors. It also targets those dealing with entities from Russia and Iran.
Syrian authorities blame Western sanctions for widespread hardship among ordinary residents, where the currency collapse has led to soaring prices and people struggling to afford food and basic supplies.
On Sunday, Syria called on the United Nations to prepare a report on the legality of the U.S. and European sanctions against Damascus.
Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari wrote to UN chief Antonio Guterres and Security Council head Nicolas de Riviere, demanding that the report shed light on the harmful effects of the sanctions on the lives of ordinary Syrians and on the United Nations’ ability to implement its humanitarian assistance programs in Syria.
A staggering 9.3 million Syrians are now going to sleep hungry and more another two million are at risk of a similar fate, international NGOs said in a joint statement Monday.
Signed by the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, CARE, Mercy Corps, and others, the statement warned that "Syrians who have already endured almost a decade of war and displacement are now facing unprecedented levels of hunger leaving millions of people acutely vulnerable to Covid-19.”
"Covid-19 restrictions, the collapse of the Syrian pound, and the displacement of millions of people have led to an unprecedented number of families in Syria who are no longer able to put food on the table,” it said.
The statement said the number of Syrians facing food insecurities has risen by 42 per cent since last year.
It noted that "unless funding and humanitarian access are increased, many Syrians, including those living as refugees in the region, will be pushed to the brink of starvation.”