FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 file photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, receives Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, upon his arrival to Damascus airport, Syria. (Photo credit: AP)
Russia’s Kremlin confirmed on 9 August that President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have discussed the current situation in Syria, with Turkish media saying that the two may have contact soon.
According to Turkish media reports, President Erdogan and President Bashar al-Assad are expected to have a phone conversation, though Ankara clarified that it is “too early” to hold bilateral talks.
During the bilateral summit in Sochi, both Putin and Erdogan said that they support the preservation of unity in Syria.
However, in July, Erdogan announced that Ankara intends to launch another military operation inside Syrian territory to combat armed groups who supposedly threaten its borders.
He added that Ankara “will not ask permission before launching a military operation in Syria.”
Turkey maintains that its military presence in Syria aims to prevent attacks from Kurdish factions, such as the Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK) and People’s Defense Unit (YPG).
Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu offered the Syrian government ‘political support’ if it helps join the Turkish goal of expelling the PKK and YPG.
Cavusoglu said that it is the natural right of Damascus to expel the YPG – part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – and the PKK from its territory.
The Turkish foreign minister remarked that the agreement between the US, Russia, and Turkey signed in 2019 to create a ‘safe zone’ between the Turkish border and outposts of Kurdish militant groups, has not been fully implemented, due to the fact that Moscow seeks to integrate the SDF into the Syrian armed forces.
He noted that the offer to coordinate with Damascus was brought up by Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
Tehran seeks to resolve Ankara’s concerns over militants on the Syrian-Turkish border through diplomatic means, and not through military intervention.
A spokesman for the SDF revealed that the government of President Bashar al-Assad agreed to provide the militia with heavy weapons to confront Turkish aggression in the countryside of Raqqah and Aleppo.