GENEVA (Sputnik) — United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura welcomed the Tuesday talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad, which come amid international efforts to bring the civil war in Syria to an end, de Mistura’s spokeswoman told RIA Novosti.
"The UN has always promoted a political settlement in Syria. Any effort towards this end is welcomed by the Special Envoy. He clearly understands that this issue was discussed," Jessy Chahine said.
Assad made an unannounced visit to Moscow on Tuesday, during which he had talks with Putin. The two leaders discussed the continuation of the operation by Russia's Aerospace Forces and Syria's Army against Islamic State (ISIL) radicals in Syria and efforts aimed at ending the four-year Syrian civil war.
The Syrian army has been fighting against several opposition and rebel groups, including Islamic State (ISIL) radicals and the al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), since the start of a civil war in the country in 2011.
A US-led international coalition has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL militants in Syria since September, 2014. The air campaign has not led to any breakthroughs in the fight against ISIL in Syria.
Russia started carrying out precision airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria on September 30, at the request of Assad.
According to the Russian General Staff, militants have begun a retreat due to Russian aviation airstrikes, having lost much of their weaponry and equipment on the contact line with Syrian troops.
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed in September that the time frame for Russia’s campaign in Syria would be limited to that of the Syrian army’s offensive. The Russian leader ruled out the participation of Russian armed forces in a ground operation in Syria.