Syria’s president, Bashar-al Assad, has said that reports of a chemical weapons attack by his forces were “100% fabricated”. He told the AFP news agency that the Syrian government gave up its arsenal of chemical weapons in 2013, adding “even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them” and accused the West of making up events in Khan Sheikhoun so it had an excuse to carry out missile strikes on the government’s Shayrat airbase, which took place a few days after the alleged attack.
The Group of Seven industrialized nations on Tuesday urged Russia to pressure the Syrian government to end the six-year civil war, but rejected a British call to impose new sanctions on Moscow over its support of President Bashar Assad. “Russia can be a part of that future and play an important role”, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.Or, he added, it could maintain its alliance with Syria, Iran and militant group Hezbollah, “which we believe is not going to serve Russia’s interests’ longer term”. He flew straight from the summit in Italy to Moscow, carrying the G-7’s strong desire for a new start in Syria, but few concrete proposals to make it happen. Finally, the G-7 members broadly agree that Assad should go – but not necessarily when, or how. European leaders are especially conscious of the disaster in Libya, where an internationally backed ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi was followed by a descent into chaos and factional fighting and about the last week’s chemical attack, the group decided not to approve new sanctions but to ask an investigation to the Organization for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons
al-Assad on Sunday said the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base on Friday crossed “red lines” and it would respond to any new aggression and increase its support for its ally. The United States fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian air base on Friday from which it said a deadly chemical weapons attack had been launched earlier in the week, escalating the U.S. role in Syria and drawing criticism from Assad’s allies including Russia and Iran.
An advance by the Assad regime forces against Daesh in northern Syria has opened a new link between regime-held areas in western Syria and the country’s northeast held by YPG-dominated and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), redrawing the map of the conflict near the Turkish border. The advance, if sustained, could open a trade lifeline between the northeast, which holds 70 percent of Syria’s oil and also includes rich farmland, and the west, where Syria’s manufacturing and most of its population are based. The regime advance has begun just south of the town of al-Bab and has pushed forward into the territory expanding northwards, where Turkish forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are currently waging Operation Euphrates Shield, which aims to carve out a buffer zone to keep Daesh and PKK-affiliated groups away from the Turkish border. Regime government forces have now come to the edge of a swathe of territory controlled by the SDF, which has mostly avoided conflict with Damascus but is viewed by Turkey as an extension of the PKK terrorist group that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish territory. The YPG, which is the armed wing of PKK’s Syrian offshoot PYD, is the dominating force within the SDF. The YPG’s critics have accused it of cooperating with Damascus in the Syrian civil war. The spokesman for the SDF militia alliance said the regime army’s advance would bring benefits to civilians in the area. “On the trade front and on the civilian front it is seen as an excellent thing, because now there is a link between the entire northern rural area”. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the regime advance in the area is part of a bid to block Turkish-backed forces from expanding their zones of control in Aleppo province.
For the first time since the outbreak of the crisis, Syrian President Bashar Assad has left the capital for a corporate trip to Moscow.
An Unexpected Journey, the Kremlin said in a press release, but suggests a renewed confidence in his government by the Syrian president.
In Moscow Bashar Al Assad met with Vladimir Putin, with whom he discussed the results of the current joint military actions and future initiatives to reach a political solution to the internal conflict in Syria. This his first international public from the beginning of the conflict in 2011 following the Arab Spring of Damascus shows how the changed situation on the ground thanks to Russian, so as not to cause fear a temporary removal from the capital.
The same destination of this presidential trip is emblematic, a kind of recognition of the importance of the Russian intervention as stated on the same Bashar Al Assad, “the terrorism that is spreading through the region now would make even greater losses without it. ”
Iran is also a great supporter of the Assad regime but the choice of Russia as the first visit of the Syrian leader can be interpreted as a sign of the need for the government to Assad to secure recognition of reward legitimacy by a major international player with a seat on the UN Security Council. Many international reactions to the meeting in Moscow was a sign of how Russian intervention is considerable in this quadrant.
Shortly after the visit, Putin has received phone calls from Turkey and Saudi Arabia leaders. Prime Minister turkish Ahmet Davutoglu said that after this meeting could start a political negotiation with Assad while Putin himself has informed the Saudi king Salman on the results of the meeting. Instead, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov received a phone call from US Secretary of State John Kerry after the visit.
A further consequence of the talks in Moscow is the convening on 22 October a series of talks on the Syrian crisis between the top diplomats of Russia, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Vienna although a great skepticism emerges as to finding a agreement for a transition plan in Syria. There are many factors that complicate the search for a political solution of the conflict, not least that of the deep Syrian divisions.
The question of how will Syria after the transition from the leadership of al-Assad will be crucial to the multilateral talks in Vienna. Many of the rebels have refused to accept a deal that allows the government to Assad to continue its work of government in any form. The United States and Turkey, among others, are not happy at the prospect that al-Assad will have a say in any political negotiations.