Russia and Turkey agreed Saturday, during talks in Moscow, to “coordinate” their actions on the ground in Syria in the context of the announced withdrawal of US forces.
“We have agreed that the Russian and Turkish military representatives on the ground will continue to coordinate their actions in this new context with the aim of eradicating the terrorist threat in Syria,” said the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, following discussions with a Turkish delegation.
“We discussed how we will coordinate our work together in the context of” the departure of Americans, confirmed his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu.
Lavrov said he was “optimistic” after the talks, which included Cavusoglu, defense ministers from both countries, Hulusi Akar and Sergei Shoigu, and intelligence officials.
These talks come after last week’s announcement by President Donald Trump of the withdrawal of the US military from Syria.
Even before being implemented, this decision entails reversals of alliances, illustrated by the entry of Bashar al-Assad’s army on Saturday into the region of Minbej, in northern Syria, in response to a call for the help of Kurdish forces.
Russia is with Iran the main ally of the Damascus regime, while Turkey is a major supporter of the rebels. The three countries are the guarantors of the Astana peace process, implemented in January 2017 without Washington’s involvement and which has gradually overshadowed the negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations.
“As in the past, we will continue active work and coordination with our Russian and Iranian colleagues to accelerate the political settlement in Syria,” said Cavusoglu.
Russia and Turkey have also pledged to cooperate to promote the return of Syrian refugees to their homes and to provide them with humanitarian aid, as well as to continue work towards the creation of a demilitarized zone at Idleb, the last stronghold rebels in Syria.
A summit on Syria gathering Russian Presidents Vladimir Putin, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian Hassan Rohani is scheduled for early 2019, according to Moscow.