The defense ministers of Turkey, Syria and Russia discussed the Syrian conflict in Moscow
Turkey’s defense minister and intelligence chief met with their Syrian counterparts in Moscow on Wednesday. This is a clear signal of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Damascus, according to Reuters.
Defense Ministers TurkeySyria and Russia – Hulusi Akar, Ali Mahmoud Abbas i Sergei Shoigu – they discussed the Syrian conflict in Moscow on Wednesday. This is the first ministerial meeting between representatives of Ankara and Damascus since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011.
According to the Anatolia agency, Minister Akar was accompanied by the head of Turkish intelligence Hakan Fidan on his trip to Russia.
Talks on the Syrian conflict in Moscow
The talks between the defense ministers focused on “the Syrian crisis, the refugee problem and the joint fight against all terrorist organizations present on Syrian territory,” the Turkish ministry said, quoted by the Associated Press. The statement announced that the parties would also convene tripartite meetings in the future to stabilize the situation in Syria and the region. No more details were given.
The Wednesday meeting was announced in mid-December by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoganwho stated, among other things, that his country wants to cooperate with Syria and Russia in the fight against terrorism.
Change of approach in bilateral relations
During the civil war in Syria, which has been going on for more than 10 years, Ankara has supported the forces opposing the regime of Bashar al-Assad, providing them with military support. Erdogan has in the past called Assad himself a terrorist and stressed that starting peace talks with him was not possible. Russia has long called for reconciliation between the governments of Turkey and Syria, a close ally of Moscow, the Associated Press points out.
A change of approach in bilateral relations was signaled in August by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who called for reconciliation between the Syrian opposition and Assad. Turkey-Syria reconciliation efforts also come at a time when President Erdogan is under heavy domestic pressure to send Syrian refugees back to their home country. Negative sentiment towards refugees in Turkey, where the economic crisis continues, is growing.
In November, after a terrorist attack in Istanbul, which Turkish authorities blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Ankara launched shelling and airstrikes on semi-autonomous Kurdish-administered zones in northern Syria and the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. The Kurds denied having anything to do with the attack. Erdogan said in mid-December that Ankara was determined to launch a ground offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria. However, he did not provide a start date for such an operation.
Main photo source: Arif Akdogan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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