Russia – Syria’s closest ally along with Iran during the four-and-a-half year war – is now raising the possibility of President al-Assad sharing power.
Moscow doesn’t want to see the Syrian leader toppled, and has urged other foreign powers to work with Damascus to combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Vladimir Putin said during a visit to Vladivostok that he had spoken to President Obama about creating an international coalition against terrorism and extremism.
“Uniting our efforts in fighting terrorism should run parallel with some political process in Syria itself and the Syrian president by the way agrees with that – even as far as holding early elections, let’s say, parliamentary ones, establishing contacts with the so-called healthy opposition, bringing them into government,” the Russian president said.
Putin added that it was too early to speak of a Russian military engagement in Syria to fight ISIL.
Assad’s enemies have refused to cooperate with Damascus. Rebel attacks on some government-held areas have risen.
This week a suicide bomb in the coastal stronghold of Latakia killed at least 10 people and wounded dozens.