Syrian opposition welcomes Erdogan, Putin meeting
Syrian National Coalition head says Erdogan's meeting with Russian counterpart is 'positive step' for Syria crisis
Head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition welcomed an upcoming meeting between Turkish and Russian presidents to take place on Tuesday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in St. Petersburg.
Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul on Monday, Anas al-Abda said Erdogan’s visit would be a "positive step" for the solution to the long-standing Syrian crisis that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
“We consider the Turkish president as a key ally of the Syrian people; he has a chance to propose ideas and initiatives to Russians and to explain them the current situation in Syria," al-Abda said.
In his remarks, al-Abda said Turkey has assured that its position toward Syrian issue has not changed after the July 15 coup attempt, which martyred 240 people and wounded nearly 2,200 others.
Turkey will support aspirations of the Syrian people and help them achieve their goals of freedom and dignity, he added.
In addition, al-Abda said he hoped Erdogan would ask Russia to stop targeting civilians and resort to a political process, which he said would allow Syrian people to decide their own fate.
The Tuesday's meeting came at Putin's invitation, marking the first one between the two leaders since Russia and Turkey began normalizing relations following the downing of a Russian jet in November last year.
The two leaders are expected to discuss efforts to find a political solution to the civil war in Syria and other regional and international issues as well as setting a new roadmap for bilateral relations between Ankara and Moscow.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research puts the death toll from the six-year conflict at more than 470,000 people.
*Reporting by Suhaib Qalalweh; Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg