Russia's Putin makes rare visit to Syria, meets Assad


Turkish and Russian presidents have urged for a cease-fire in Libya by January 12 midnight, according to Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday. Iran has vowed revenge for the slaying, and with some 600 American troops deployed in Syria, the country is a potential site of conflict with Iran.

Putin and Assad met at a Russian command post in Damascus, and were presented with military reports on the situation in different regions of Syria, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

"I would like to emphasize the call that Presidents Putin and Erdogan addressed to all the Libyan sides - to immediately stop fighting, starting from 00:00 on January 12", he said.

Libya is now governed by dueling authorities in the east and in the west. The western, Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy.

Another hot topic is Erdogan's decision to intervene in Libya. Turkey says the deployment was requested by Serraj's government. Assad previously visited Russian Federation and met with Putin in May 2018, November 2017 and October 2015. Conte received him with full honors at the premier's palace.

A day after British, French, German and Italian foreign ministers condemned Turkish plans to send military personnel to Tripoli, Fayez al-Serraj made a brief trip to Brussels to meet European Union officials and Germany's foreign minister, after plans to meet in Tripoli on Tuesday were judged too unsafe.

"We need to stop arm supplies, we need to stop all foreign meddling in Libya", Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook.

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"We want to avoid Libya becoming the scene of proxy wars", Maas said, referring to Turkey's plans for military aid for Serraj and Russia's support for the premier's rival in the east, Khalifa Haftar.

The Egyptian, French, Cypriot and Greek ministers expressed support for talks in Berlin that wouldbring together both sides of the Libyan conflict.

Foreign powers have been drawn into the conflict.

In a sign that Hifter's forces weren't backing down, his self-styled Libyan National Army announced it was expanding the "no fly zone" around Tripoli.

On Wednesday, the LNA responded with strikes near the Abu Grein checkpoint, close to al-Washka, where clashes were continuing, LNA military officials said.

In a joint statement, Erdogan and Putin deplored the "worsening situation in Libya" as "undermining the security and stability of Libya's wider neighbourhood, the entire Mediterranean region, as well as the African continent, triggering irregular migration, further spread of weapons, terrorism and other criminal activities including illicit trafficking".