Russian FM Sergei Lavrov visits Syria for first time since 2012

Russian FM Sergei Lavrov visits Syria for first time since 2012

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov landed in Damascus on Monday on his first visit to war-torn Syria since 2012, the Syrian foreign ministry said.

He is joining a Russian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov which arrived in the Syrian capital the previous night, state news agency SANA said.

Lavrov was expected to meet President Bashar al-Assad before a press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in the afternoon, both foreign ministries said.

He was then expected to head onwards to nearby Cyprus.

President Vladimir Putin made his first trip to Damascus in Syria’s nine-year-old war in January this year.

The Russian leader also visited Syria in December 2017 but had not been to the capital, only stopping at the Russian base of Hmeimim on the Mediterranean coast.

Russia has been a key ally of the Damascus regime throughout the Syrian conflict that erupted in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

Moscow’s military intervention in 2015 helped turn the tide of the war, with Russian air power allowing Syrian government forces to win back large parts of the country.

The conflict has ravaged the Syria economy, killed more than 380,000 people and pushed millions to flee their homes.

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