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Putin says Turkey played 'critical role' in Aleppo

Russian president says about 100,000 people have been evacuated from Syrian city

The evacuation of eastern Aleppo was described as the biggest humanitarian operation in the world by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.


Putin's remarks came during his 12th annual news conference, which more than 1,400 journalists attended.


Speaking in a broadcast carried on state-owned channel RT, Putin said: "This is the biggest operation in the world."


Putin claimed about 100,000 people had been evacuated from Aleppo.


The Russian leader also described trilateral cooperation between Turkey, Iran and Russia as playing a “critical role” in the Aleppo crisis.


A meeting of Russian, Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers was held on Tuesday in Moscow. They agreed on a joint declaration to ensure the evacuation of civilians and armed groups from eastern Aleppo.


Putin said this could not have been achieved without the "active" cooperation of Turkey and Iran.

Russia’s president said there was a need to sign a cease-fire deal in Syria. He recalled that Turkey and Iran had agreed on an earlier suggestion to bring together representatives of the Syrian regime and opposition in Kazakhstan.


Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev had expressed his "readiness" to provide a platform for talks in Astana.


Karlov killing


Putin had postponed Friday’s conference for the first time ever to attend on Thursday the memorial for Moscow’s ambassador to Turkey who was assassinated Monday in Ankara.


Speaking about the killing of Andrey Karlov, Putin said: "I think it was an attempt on Russia and Russian-Turkish relations."


"We are fully aware of the importance of Russian-Turkish relations and we will certainly do anything to develop them," Putin added.


Karlov died after being shot multiple times at an art exhibition in the Turkish capital. He was delivering a speech when 22-year-old Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas opened fire. Altintas was later gunned down in an exchange of fire with security personnel.

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