Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev received his Syrian counterpart Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar in Moscow on Monday, where the two ministers signed a cooperation agreement to combat Islamic terrorism.
General Kolokoltsev told Syria’s official SANA news agency that the Russian-Syrian relations are developing at a steady pace, and that the new agreement furnishes them with a new legal platform to further bolster these relations.
Al-Shaar likewise expressed his appreciation for Russian-Syrian relations. He noted that the pact set in place mechanisms and procedures to counter and eliminate terrorism, underscoring that cooperation on counter-terrorism and extremism is a top priority for the two ministries.
The Syrian official also thanked the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian people for Russia’s support for Syria during its crisis over the past four years.
The Syrian crisis, which began in mid-March 2011, has claimed the lives of over 215,000 people, according to data reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the conflict on March 15.
From the outset, Damascus has accused some countries, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, of supporting the armed terrorist groups acting against the Syrian government, who have caused a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq.
The Syrian situation is very murky. In their battle against Takfiri militants in the mountainous region near the capital of Damascus, Syrian soldiers have been backed by fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, which is itself a Shi’a radical Islamist group backed by Iran.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says over 7.2 million people have been internally displaced, and more than three million have fled the country due to the crisis.
Earlier in the day on Monday, the Russians gave the Syrian delegation a tour of the offices of Russia’s Interior Ministry offering them an overview of their work and structure.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome