DAMASCUS, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met on Thursday with visiting Russian special envoy for Syrian affairs Alexander Lavrentiev to discuss the counter-terrorism cooperation, the state news agency SANA reported.
Both sides discussed the ongoing coordination and cooperation in fighting the terrorist groups in Syria and ways to boost the efforts to pave the way for the political track, according to SANA.
The meeting came at a time when Russia called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in Eastern Ghouta in east of Damascus, where the fighting between government troops and rebels has escalated recently, creating a humanitarian crisis in the region.
The rebels have rained down Damascus with mortar shells while Syrian government retaliated with intensified airstrikes and shelling on the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.
Opposition activists described the situation in Eastern Ghouta as catastrophic, as more than .
A day earlier, the Syria-based Russian Reconciliation Center said the rebels in Eastern Ghouta have not responded to the calls for laying down their weapons and endorsing a ceasefire.
Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told the 15-member council on Wednesday that the UN Security Council must meet on Thursday to discuss the situation in Eastern Ghouta.
He said the appeals from Western powers to halt the violence in Eastern Ghouta were one-sided as they did not consider the Syrian government's stance.
"There are terrorists there who the Syrian army is fighting and the terrorists are shelling Damascus," Nebenzia said, adding "that is being neglected."