Turkey to host Syria summit on April 4 with Russia, Iran
ISTANBUL - The presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran will meet for a three-way summit on Syria in Istanbul on April 4, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Thursday.
The meeting will be hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and will be the second such tripartite summit following one in November in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The summit will be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as the three leaders seek to salvage their efforts to end the conflict.
As part of peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana sponsored by Ankara, Moscow and Tehran, the three countries' foreign ministers will meet on Friday and will discuss preparations for next month's summit, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The three countries have worked together despite being on different sides. While Iran and Russia have provided military support to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey has repeatedly called for his ousting and supported Syrian rebels.
Ankara on January 20 launched an air and ground offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in its enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.
The operation dubbed Olive Branch follows Turkey's 2016-2017 offensive named Euphrates Shield in Syria against the YPG and the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.
As part of the Astana process, Turkey, Iran and Russia have set out to create four so-called de-escalation zones in Idlib, the greater Damascus area, the southern region of Daraa and the city of Homs.
Intense bombardment has continued in Eastern Ghouta, which was designated in May 2017 as a "de-escalation zone".
On February 18, the regime backed by Russia launched a campaign against the rebel enclave near Damascus which has killed 1,249 civilians, including 252 children.