Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the Kremlin in Moscow on Monday. Photograph:( AFP )
Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticised the presence of foreign troops in Syria. Putin said they are blocking the consolidation of the war-torn country. The remark came at a rare meeting in Moscow, where the president met his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad. He was referring to presence of US troops in eastern Syria and Turkish forces in northern Syria
Criticising the presence of foreign troops in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said they are there against the will of the Syrian government. They are also blocking the consolidation of the war-torn country, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
The president was talking about to numerous US troops in eastern Syria, who are working with Kurdish-led fighters, in battling the Islamic State group, as well as Turkish forces stationed in northern Syria.
Watch: Russia is building its military influence in Africa
In a rare meeting in Moscow on Monday, the president met his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad. Putin said the presence of the foreigners is illegal as they don't have permission to be there from the United Nations or Syria's government.
In September 2015, Russia joined Syria's 10-year-old conflict when the Syrian military appeared close to collapse. The country has since helped in tipping the balance of power in favour of Assad, whose forces now control much of the country.
Across Syria, hundreds of Russian troops are deployed and they also have a military air base along Syria's Mediterranean coast.
The state media in Damascus reported that Assad and Putin discussed cooperation between their armies and ways to continue operations to gain control of the last rebel-held areas in Syria.
(With inputs from agencies)