Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday discussed the situation in Syria's Eastern Euphrates region and Idlib Province with visiting Russian Defense Minister Sergey Kuzhugetovich Shoygu, state news agency SANA reported.
A handout made available by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows Syrian President Bashar Assad (C) meeting with the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (L) in the presence of Syrian Minister of Defense Maj.Gen. Ali Abdallh Ayoub (R), in Damascus, Syria, 19 March 2019. [Photo: IC]
Both sides agreed to continue joint work to find suitable solutions to the issues of Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria, and the Eastern Euphrates River region in eastern Syria, which is largely controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
It's worth noting that the United States is behind the SDF in its push in the Eastern Euphrates River region in eastern Syria while Turkey enjoys big sway over the rebels in Idlib.
Assad and Shoygu also discussed the "high coordination" between the two countries in the anti-terror efforts and the achievements made in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front in Syria.
The visit of Shoygu comes a day after the chiefs of staff of Iran and Iraq visited Syria and held meetings with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyoub and then Assad.
During the meeting with the two officials, Ayyoub said the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) must embark on reconciliation with the government, or the areas under their control will be retaken by the Syrian army.
The Syrian official said the government will completely wrest control over all territory including Idlib sooner or later, through reconciliations or military force.
The Syrian government has long said it would retrieve Idlib from the ultra-radical rebels. However, a planned military campaign was put on hold late last year when Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed on setting up a demilitarized zone in Idlib.