Leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran say US withdrawal is good for the country as they meet in the Russian city of Sochi.
After Thursday’s summit, Putin told Turkey and Iran he wanted to devise a joint plan to wipe out what he called “a hotbed of terrorists” in Syria’s Idlib region, an idea Moscow has so far tried and failed to sell to Ankara.
“We should not put up with the presence of terrorist groups in Idlib,” Putin told Erdogan and Rouhani.
“That’s why I propose we consider practical concrete steps that Russia, Turkey and Iran can take to completely destroy this hotbed of terrorists.”
Putin’s spokesman told Russian news agencies that no new military operation against Idlib had been agreed on.
Turkey, which backs moderate Syrian rebels, and Russia, the Syrian government’s principal foreign ally, agreed in September to create a demilitarised zone in Idlib, the last stronghold of Syrian rebels, which would be evacuated of all heavy weapons and hardline combatants.
Ankara pledged to disarm and remove the Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) armed group that dominates and continues to expand its reach in the region.
In return, the Russian-backed Syrian government said it would hold off launching a major military operation to wipe out HTS, once affiliated with al-Qaeda.
All three countries have forces on the ground in Syria where they have coordinated their efforts despite sometimes differing priorities and interests.
Ankara is concerned about potential refugee flows from Idlib in the event of a military operation, and wants to retain its influence in the region on its border.
At the summit, the three leaders also expressed their support for the territorial integrity of Syria.
“The presidents expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighbouring countries,” read a joint statement released following the trilateral summit.