Putin promises to help rebuild Syria's holy sites and bring refugees home

Russia's President Vladimir Putin recently vowed to help rebuild the holy sites destroyed by the war in Syria and to facilitate the return of displaced Christians and refugees from other faiths.

(REUTERS / Sergei Ilnitsky / Pool / File Photo)Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, January 17, 2017.

During a meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders on Monday, Putin declared that Syrian and Russian troops have succeeded in freeing Syria from the clutches of terrorists. He also promised that Moscow would help rebuild the country's holy sites and added that the return of Christian refugees and other displaced minorities could be instrumental in the restoration of peace, RT reported.

"We will help also the members of other faiths, including Muslims, who, as we are well aware of, have also suffered greatly at the hands of bandits, terrorists and radicals," said Putin. "We will also help Jews, a number of organizations have already reached us with a call for help in restoration of Judaic holy sites."

In addition, Putin said that a workgroup formed by the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches would play an important role in the restoration efforts. This group aims to find the temples destroyed in Syria to pave the way for the restoration of these structures.

In an informal meeting at a regional economic summit in Vietnam last month, Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump issued a joint statement on the war in Syria. The two leaders had reiterated their commitment to defeating the Islamic State in the war-torn country and the importance of keeping "military channels of communication between military professionals" open on issues surrounding Syria until the militant group is finally defeated, CNN relayed.

The statement also agreed that the conflict in Syria could not be solved by any military campaign, so an "ultimate political solution" was needed to address the problem. Trump later told reporters that the two of them seemed to get along well quickly and that the agreement with Putin would save a lot of lives.