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Moscow hosts talks geared toward Syria-Turkey rapprochement

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MOSCOW — Senior diplomats from Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iran wrapped up two days of talks in Moscow Tuesday, a part of the Kremlin’s efforts to assist dealer a rapprochement between the Turkish and Syrian governments.

Russian and Turkish international ministries issued terse readouts, saying the diplomats have mentioned preparations for a deliberate assembly of the 4 international locations international ministers. Moscow described the consultations as “frank and direct,” and Ankara stated they have been held in a “clear and clear method,” whereas providing no particulars.

Russia has waged a army marketing campaign in Syria since September 2015, teaming up with Iran to permit Assad’s authorities to struggle armed opposition teams and reclaim management over a lot of the nation. Whereas the majority of the Russian army has been busy combating in Ukraine, Moscow has maintained its army foothold in Syria and stored warplanes and troops at its bases there.

The Kremlin has additionally made persistent efforts to assist Syria rebuild fractured ties with different international locations within the area, together with neighboring Turkey, which has backed armed opposition to Assad all through the 12-year battle. In December, Moscow hosted a shock assembly of the Turkish and Syrian protection ministers, the primary such encounter since Syria’s uprising-turned-civil-war started in 2011.

Ayman Sousan, Syria’s deputy international minister who attended the talks in Moscow, thanked Russia and Iran for his or her assist in “confronting terrorism” in remarks carried by the state information company SANA. Sousan blasted different international locations that “took benefit of the state of affairs created by this warfare to illegally ship their forces to Syria” and supported “terrorist teams.”

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Turkey has backed armed opposition teams in Syria which have sought to overthrow Assad’s authorities in the course of the civil warfare, which has killed almost 500,000 individuals and displaced half of the nation’s prewar inhabitants. Turkey de facto controls giant swathes of northwestern Syria, and Sousan emphasised that the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syrian territory is a prerequisite for a normalization of ties.

However whilst Turkey has supported Syrian opposition fighters within the north, Ankara and Damascus are equally dismayed over the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria’s northeast. Turkey-backed opposition fighters have clashed with the SDF previously, accusing them of being an arm of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Staff’ Social gathering, or PKK. The PKK has for many years waged an insurgency inside Turkey towards the federal government in Ankara.

Assad’s authorities has solid the SDF as a secessionist power that has been pilfering the nation’s wealth whereas controlling Syria’s main oil fields.

The efforts towards a Turkish-Syrian reconciliation come as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who faces presidential and parliamentary elections in Might, is underneath intense strain at dwelling to ship Syrian refugees again amid a steep financial downturn and an growing anti-refugee sentiment.

The reconciliation efforts between Syria and Turkey topped the agenda for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s talks with Assad when he visited Moscow final month.

After the catastrophic earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey in February, worldwide sympathy appeared to have sped up the regional rapprochement. Some have referred to as for dialogue with Syria and for bringing the nation again to the 22-member Arab League greater than a decade after its membership was suspended over the crackdown within the early months of the rebellion that become warfare and has killed almost half 1,000,000 individuals.


Abby Sewell in Beirut and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed to this report.

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