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    13-Mar-2023

Türkiye to Continue Normalization Talks with Assad Regime within Days

 

Asharq Al-Awsat

 

Türkiye confirmed its intention to continue the normalization talks with the Syrian regime in the coming period, expressing its hope that Damascus would understand its concerns about the presence of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) near its borders.
 
 
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar asserted that Ankara will continue the talks with Damascus after the upcoming technical meetings are held in Moscow between the deputy foreign ministers of Türkiye, Russia, Syria and Iran.
 
 
In a press interview, Akar added that Ankara is waiting for Damascus to understand its position on the YPG, the military backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on Syrian territory.
 
 
Türkiye is not an occupier of Syrian lands, stressed the minister, adding that its presence aimed to combat terrorism and protect its borders and territorial integrity.
 
 
Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed during a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a Russian proposal to hold a meeting between the four countries in Ankara at the technical level in preparation for a possible meeting between their foreign ministers.
 
 
Several meetings were held between the Turkish and Syrian intelligence officials, mediated by Russia, which developed into a meeting at the level of defense ministers and heads of intelligence services of the three countries, in Moscow on December 28.
 
 
The three foreign ministers were supposed to meet during the second half of January in preparation for a meeting at the level of presidents, as proposed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 
 
However, Damascus made conditions to continue the normalization talks. It stipulated the withdrawal of Turkish forces from northern Syria, Ankara's cessation of its support for the Syrian opposition, and the designation as terrorist the armed factions loyal to it under the Syrian National Army (SNA).
 
 
A meeting for the foreign ministers was scheduled for January, then postponed to early February, and then to the middle of the month. It was later delayed because of the earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria on February 6.
 
 
Ankara stated there was a need to hold a second meeting of defense ministers before the meeting of foreign ministers, which was viewed as a slowdown in normalization efforts sponsored by Russia and amid reports of Iranian interference.
 
 
Akar said the YPG and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are two sides of the same coin, criticizing the visit of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, to the SDF-held areas in northeastern Syria, under the pretext of inspecting US forces there.
 
 
He hoped that Türkiye’s allies and friends would understand the danger of the deployment of Kurdish units along its border and the danger they pose to its citizens.
 
 
Ankara says the US continues to support the YPG, dismissing a US statement that denied Milley had met with SDF and YPG commanders. The statement said he had only met with American forces.
 
 
Turkish Foreign Ministry sources said that regardless of whether this meeting took place, Washington's support of the terrorist organization is undeniable.
 
 
Last Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador, Jeff Flake, to demand clarifications about the top US general's visit to northeast Syria.
 

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