Ankara and Damascus shook hands, and Turkey withdrew its troops

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Turkey will take action to withdraw its troops from northern Syria. This is written by the Arab newspaper Al-Watan, referring to the tripartite conflict that ended at the end of last year. The meeting was held in Moscow and was attended by the defense ministers of the three countries – Mr. Hulusi Akar [Turkey], Mr. Ali Mahmoud Abbas [Syria], and Mr. Sergey Shoigu [Russia].

Turkish armored vehicle fell into Russian hands in Syria
Photo credit: Field source

The Arab newspaper’s sources claim that Ankara has agreed to a full withdrawal from northern Syria. This is actually the first concession of position by the government in Ankara since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, which began nearly 12 years ago.

According to the Bulgarian online portal Objective, Ankara and Damascus have found a common language thanks to the Syrian YPG militia. Turkey has been conducting military operations in Syria and Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK] for years. Ankara associates the YPG and the PKK as a single entity, leading to a sharp change in Turkey’s stance towards Syria in recent years. The PKK commits terrorist acts on the territory of Turkey, the last of which was in November last year.

Both countries, Turkey and Syria, accuse the US of funding the YPG. Turkey has repeatedly launched ground operations against both the YPG and the PKK. At the same time, the incoming structures [YPG and PKK] are in relations with various Kurdish groups that assist in carrying out assassinations.

The tripartite meeting held in Moscow is the first step, sources said. A commission is to be formed to monitor the fulfillment of the commitments made by the three countries. It is not clear, however, what Russia’s role is – whether it was simply a host mediator between Syria and Turkey, or whether Moscow will not gain more power in the Arab country from the Middle East.

Gradual actions are coming, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced, stressing that the public should not expect everything agreed upon in Moscow to be done all at once and quickly. In Moscow, Turkey stressed that “we respect the territorial integrity and sovereign rights of Syria and that our only goal is the fight against terrorism,” including the PKK/YPG and Islamic State, Turkey’s defense minister said.

Turkish Minister Mr. Akar announced that relations between Damascus and Ankara are now better than a year or two ago. He even emphasized that the peace talks between the two countries are continuing. Mr. Akar did not even rule out the possibility of the two countries jointly participating in anti-terrorist operations. That will happen “if we can solve our defense and security issues if we can meet our needs,” he added.

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