Russian Federation and Turkey vow to ease Middle East tensions

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Damascus on Tuesday and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, state news agency SANA reported.

Bilateral negotiations took place between the Russian and Syrian delegations.

Putin's rare visit came just days after the killing of Iran's Qassem Soleimani, one of the key figures in Syria's war as the architect of Iranian military operations in the Middle East. Soleimani had just returned from Syria when he was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad airport in Iraq.

General Soleimani - the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard foreign operations arm - was killed on Friday in a United States strike on Baghdad global airport.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has informed head of Syria's National Security Bureau Ali Mamluk of the continued coordination between Damascus and Tehran after the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.

On Friday, a USA drone strike killed a top Iranian general who led forces supporting Assad in Syria's civil war.

The Russian president's last trip to Syria was a visit to the Russian military base of Hmeimim, in the coastal city of Latakia, in 2017. The east-based government, backed by Hifter's forces, is supported by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russian Federation.

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According to reports, the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad was targeted in an attack on Sunday evening. The Iranian lawmakers also described the US move as a "true example of terrorism".

Putin wanted to make clear that Russian Federation won't tolerate Iranian reprisals from Syrian territory, sources report.

Tzvi Yehezkeli, analyst for Israel's Channel 13, said on Wednesday that Soleimani was a "kind of partner" with Russian Federation, helping it fight ISIS and save Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Syria also has close ties to Iran.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force launched a drill with 52 fighter jets in Utah, just days after President Donald Trump threatened to hit 52 sites in Iran.

Putin extended his greetings to Russian forces for the Orthodox Christmas.

While in Syria, Putin further plans to visit several more sites, Peskov added.

Meanwhile, Putin is also set to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she travels to Moscow on Saturday to discuss the growing crisis in the Middle East, a spokesman for the chancellor said Monday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this week that Turkey's objective was "not to fight", but "to support the legitimate government and avoid a humanitarian tragedy".

  • Sonia Alvarado