The Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents will hold a summit in southern Russia on Thursday to try to re-launch the process of settling the Syrian dispute, at a time when the radical Islamic state has been besieged and Washington is preparing for its military withdrawal from Syria.

Syria, which has been in a war for eight years and has killed more than 350,000 people, is at the heart of an intensive diplomatic movement this week, with the International Alliance against Jihadist Organization in Munich and the Middle East Summit in Warsaw, in the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu.

Officially, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani who are both the allies of Damascus, and Erdogan, who supports the opposition of the regime in Syria, will focus on initiatives aimed at pushing forward the Syrian internal dialogue.

Russia, which hosts the summit, has imposed itself as a key player in the conflict since its military intervention in Syria in 2015 to support Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who now controls nearly two-thirds of the country’s land.

The Astana track, launched by Russia, Iran and Turkey, was overshadowed by UN-sponsored talks, without a final settlement of the Syrian dispute being reached.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the summit between the three presidents would be devoted to the formation of a commission to draft a new Syrian constitution for political transition.

The United Nations acknowledged in late December that it had failed to form a committee, citing problems related to changes proposed by Damascus on the list of names.

In contrast, Lavrov said on Wednesday, “We’re ready to look for a solution to this situation and we’ll continue the work”.

This is the fourth summit between Russia, Iran and Turkey.

The Kurdish and Arab forces of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the Washington-led coalition, on Saturday launched their “final” operation against the last jihadi pocket in the eastern province of Deir Al Zour.

After the rapid growth of their power and their declaration of “caliphate” in vast territories in Syria and Iraq, the jihadists who once took control of large cities were defeated, but are now trapped within a few square kilometers.

The victory over the organization of the Islamic state opens the way for President Donald Trump’s sudden withdrawal in December of about 2,000 US troops deployed in Syria to support Syria’s democratic forces in the fight against terrorism.

But so far Washington has not set a date for withdrawal.

The last summit between the three Presidents took place in September.

At that time, differences emerged clearly between the three countries over the fate of Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan had to meet again to stop a military operation in Idlib, which the Syrian government wanted, and then agreed to form a “demilitarized” Russian-Turkish zone in the vast province where opposition factions coexist.

The fate of Idlib province is also due to be discussed Thursday between Putin and Erdogan, who will meet separately before the summit with Rouhani.

Under the Russian-Turkish agreement, all extremist fighters, especially the elements of the Sham Liberation Organization (formerly known as Al Nusra front), which is dominated by the former al Qaeda branch, must withdraw from that region.

However, the liberation elements of the Sham Liberation Organization have strengthened their grip ever since.

Lavrov said that “they currently control more than 90 percent of the territory in the region”, stressing on Wednesday that “there is no agreement provides for the eternal control of this cracker of terrorists on Syrian territory”.

“We‘ll do what we can to help the Syrian government and the Syrian army to liberate their land”, Lavrov stressed out.

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