Turkey to continue cooperation with Iran, Russia on regional issues, Syria: Turkish FM
Iran Press TV
Sat Dec 29, 2018 03:56PM
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey would continue to be in close cooperation with Iran and Russia on regional developments, especially the Syria conflict as Ankara is reportedly preparing to launch a military incursion against US-backed Kurdish militants in northern Syria.
"We will continue close cooperation with Russia and Iran on Syria and regional issues," Mevlut Cavusoglu said following a meeting with Russian officials in Moscow on Saturday, Turkey's official Anadolu news agency reported.
The Turkish foreign minister said that Turkey, Russia, and Iran, known as the guarantor states of ceasefire in Syria, have close cooperation on the Arab country within the framework of the Astana peace process.
"Thus we've made important progress in many fields on the political process," Cavusoglu said.
Ankara, which has been assisting several militant groups fighting to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad, has moderated its initial hostility toward Damascus and been working with Iran and Russia to restore peace to Syria within the Astana talks.
The Astana format – which has brought the parties to the Syria conflict to the negotiating table – has so far made numerous achievements both on the battlefield and the political stage.
The talks have helped significantly decrease the violence gripping Syria by creating for de-escalation zone there. They have also paved the way for the formation of a constitutional committee.
'Turkey committed to Syria's integrity'
Cavusoglu further said that Ankara would remain committed to Syria's territorial integrity and was ready to counter attempts to undermine it.
"As the guarantors of the Astana process, we are certainly committed to the territorial integrity and unity of Syria and are ready to deter any actions aimed at undermining these principles," he said.
Cavusoglu said that Turkey and Russia had a common position on Syrian issues, including the need to eradicate all terrorist groups in the Arab country.
'Turkey, Russia to continue anti-terror battle'
He said that during talks with Russian officials, "We confirmed our readiness and determination to continue the fight in order to liberate Syria from this scourge."
The top Turkish diplomat also said that the two countries' foreign and defense ministers had exchanged views on the situation "surrounding the United States' plan to withdraw troops from Syria."
"We discussed ways to coordinate our joint efforts given the circumstances," Cavusoglu noted.
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump ordered a quick withdrawal of all 2,000 US forces from Syria, claiming victory over the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the war-torn country.
US media reports say the planned pullout has made anti-Damascus Kurdish militants, who have long enjoyed American support, feel abandoned by Washington.
On Friday, Kurdish militants from the US-backed People's Protection Units (YPG) asked Damascus for protection after the planned withdrawal of US troops. Units of the Syrian army entered Syria's northern town of Manbij later and hoisted the national flag in the Kurdish-held city.
The northern Syrian town of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, has been a major bone of contention between Ankara and Washington.
Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal reached with the US in June, which would see the YPG ousted from the town and moved back to the eastern bank of the river.
Last week, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said preparations for a military operation campaign in the eastern bank of the Euphrates River against Kurdish YPG militants were proceeding as planned.
Over the past few days, the Turkish military has been sending reinforcements to frontline areas with YPG militants in northern Syria.
The Turkish military, with support from allied militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, has launched two cross-border operations in northern Syria, dubbed "Euphrates Shield" and "Olive Branch," against the YPG and Daesh.
Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist group and an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and threatened to attack east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to drive out the militants.
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