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Russia’s Putin calls Syria’s Assad to congratulate on Aleppo liberation

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad to congratulate him on the full liberation of Syria’s strategic city of Aleppo from the control of foreign-backed militants.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin phoned the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and congratulated him with the end of the operation of liberation of Aleppo from fighters," the Kremlin said in a statement on Friday.

"This success was possible thanks to mutual efforts of all who came together in the fight with international terrorism in Syria," it said.

The statement added that Putin "underlined that the main task remains to focus efforts on issues pertaining to the... resolution of the Syrian crisis."

According to the statement, Putin also told Assad that the efforts must be directed toward trying to achieving an agreement to resolve the Syria crisis.

Meanwhile, according to a statement by the office of the Syrian Presidency on Friday, Assad thanked his Russian counterpart for having been Syria's main partner in the liberation of Aleppo.

He said the city's fall had opened the door to a political process, the statement added.

Assad and Putin discussed the way forward for Syria after almost six years of war, it said

A Syrian driver flies a national flag as people celebrate in the streets on December 22, 2016 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, after the army said it has retaken full control of the city. (Photo by AFP)

The phone call came a day after the Syrian military announced that it had attained full control of the northwestern city, having completely cleansed its eastern side of militants for the first time since 2012.

The victory came about despite military support for the militants by the United States, Turkey, and some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region.

At a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday, Putin described the liberation of Syria’s second city as a sizeable step toward the restoration of stability in the Arab country and the region in general.

“The liberation of Aleppo from radical elements is a very important part of the normalization in Syria, and I hope, for the region overall,” the Russian president said.

Also on Friday, Putin addressed an annual conference, saying that the evacuations in Aleppo would not have been possible without his country, Iran, and Turkey and the goodwill of President Assad. 

He urged a nationwide ceasefire deal and said the four sides had agreed to attend peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to try to resolve the conflict in Syria.

Russia has been carrying out an aerial campaign against militants in Syria, including formerly in Aleppo, on a request from the Syrian government. Iran, too, has been offering Damascus advisory military help.

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