News “Border security discussed in negotiations with Syria.” News headlines and events Last Minute Russia
Talks between the Syrian and Turkish defense ministers in Moscow discussed border security and how Turkey could work together against Kurdish militias, a Turkish official who spoke to Reuters said.
Yesterday’s meeting was at the highest level since the start of the war in Syria more than 10 years ago. Turkey supported the opposition fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and sent troops to the north of the country.
An attempt to contact Assad’s leading ally, Russia, could turn the tide of the war. But obstacles include the plight of pro-Turkish militants and the millions of civilians who have taken refuge in Turkey to escape the Assad regime.
The Turkish official rated the meeting as “positive”.
The Turkish official, who asked not to be named, said he was assessing how the Turkish side could work together against “terrorist organizations such as the YPG and ISIS” for the sake of Syria’s territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism.
“It was stressed that Turkey’s priority is border security,” the official said.
Badran Jia Kurd, an official with the Kurdistan Autonomous Administration in northern Syria, said he expected the meeting to see a new set of agreements and plans that run counter to the interests of the Syrians.
Speaking to Reuters, a Kurdish official said the situation raises concerns that the Kurds will lose the gains they have made in northern and eastern Syria.
Turkey has carried out three operations against Kurdish YPG militias in Syria. Kurds have enjoyed considerable autonomy since war broke out in the north of the country in 2011.
Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK and perceives it as a security threat. After the terrorist attack in Istanbul last month, the Turkish authorities also started talking about a new operation in northern Syria.
The US, which is cooperating with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIS in Russia and Syria, says it is opposed to Turkey launching a new ground operation.
Despite occasional clashes, the YPG and Damascus generally avoided interfering with each other during the war and had common enemies, including Turkish-backed groups.
Damascus rejects Kurdish demands for autonomy. So far, no progress has been made in political reconciliation efforts.
A rapprochement between Turkey and Syria seemed impossible in previous periods of the war. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Assad a terrorist and said that as long as he is in power, there will be no peace with Syria. Esat used the term “thief”, saying that Erdogan “stole” the Syrian lands.
The pro-government Syrian newspaper Al-Watan reported that some sources said that the defense ministers’ meeting was possible because previous meetings had reached the level desired by Damascus.
The Syrian state news agency SANA reported that the parties discussed the fight against terrorism, the situation in Syria and the issue of refugees.
SANA notes that the three ministers stressed the importance of continuing the joint dialogue to stabilize the situation in Syria and the region.
A Turkish official said that it was stated that immigration from Syria to Turkey would no longer be welcome. Turkey hosts about 3,700,000 Syrian refugees. This is the largest number of refugees in the world. However, the economic crisis in the country causes a public reaction to the refugees.
Middle East Technical University professor Hussain Bagji said that the first goal is to build trust and that both sides will try to make a profit, and saw the meeting as an important step in normalizing relations.
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