Obama, Putin agree on need for solution in Syria

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agree over need for politicial transition in Syria involving UN-mediated talks in discussion at G20 summit in Turkey

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and U.S. security advisor Susan Rice (2nd L) prior to the opening session of the G20 Leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey November 15, 2015

Updated Nov 16, 2015

A White House official said US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed about the need for a politicial transition in Syria involving UN-mediated talks in a discussion at the G20 summit on Sunday in Turkey.

In the 35-minute meeting, the two presidents discussed finding a solution to the Syrian conflict, which has come under renewed focus following the recent attacks in Paris.

The White House official said, "President Obama and President Putin agreed on the need for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, which would be proceeded by UN-mediated negotiations between the Syrian opposition and regime as well a ceasefire."

Russia, one of the most important international backers of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, does not accept the possibility of any political transition in Syria without including Assad.

On September 30  Russia intervened in Syria by launching air strikes against Syrian opposition targets despite insisting it would not strike the opposition but DAESH, while a US-led coalition has been conducting air strikes on DAESH positions since December 2014.

According to a former officer from the Syrian Army, Russian air strikes have strengthened Assad’s presence in Syria. Thabet Mohammad said, "Russia has so far conducted more than 1,200 rounds of air raids in Syria, striking over 1,000 militant positions. That means almost 30 to 40 percent of their facilities have been destroyed."

However, Russia has come under heavy criticism for its activity in Syria where its jets have hit civilian areas since it began conducting air strikes in September, while claiming that its warplanes are targeting DAESH positions.

Russia's intervention in Syria has been criticised by US officials as "failing," "wrong headed" and "strategically short-sighted."

According to a report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an estimated 120,000 Syrians had been displaced in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib, where Russia has been focusing the majority of its air strikes.

The US has been seeking to increase pressure on DAESH terrorists after they seized parts of Syria and Iraq, including by deploying dozens of special operations troops to Syria, supplying more weaponry to US-backed Syrian fighters and intensifying US air strikes against the terrorist group DAESH.

The UN estimates the death toll from the war in Syria to be at least 250,000, while the SOHR states that the number of deaths has now reached 350,000.

About 4 million Syrians have fled the country and  took refuge in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, with Turkey hosting the largest number - over 2 million.

TRTWorld and agencies