Turkey, Russia agree to 'coordinate' anti-terror Syria operations
Iran Press TV
Sun Dec 30, 2018 06:32AM
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow and Ankara have reached a consensus on coordination of counter-terrorism military activities in Syria amid the withdrawal of American troops from the Arab country.
Speaking after a high-level meeting with Turkish officials in Moscow on Saturday, Lavrov emphasized that both sides had "paid special attention to the new circumstances" caused by US President Donald Trump's Syria pullout decision.
"An understanding was reached over how the military representatives of Russia and Turkey on the ground will continue to coordinate their steps under the new conditions with an aim toward the final eradication of the terrorist threat in Syria," Russian media quoted Lavrov as saying.
He also described his discussions with Turkish officials as "very useful," saying both Moscow and Ankara had stressed their "unconditional respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria."
He further expressed hope that the Western countries would not obstruct efforts by Russia, Turkey and Iran aimed at setting up Syria's constitutional committee.
The three countries are operating as the guarantors of the Astana peace process, which has brought representatives from Syria's warring parties to the negotiating table and resulted in the establishment of safe zones across the war-torn state.
"It was stated that Russia and Turkey, in cooperation with our Iranian colleagues, have done everything we promised to do on the formation of the constitutional committee, which should start working in Geneva, " Lavrov said.
"We will continue to actively promote the beginning of the work of this constitutional committee, now with the new UN Special Envoy for Syria Mr. [Geir] Pedersen."
Russia was represented at Saturday's meeting by Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Intelligence Service head Sergei Naryshkin and chief of Russia's General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
The Turkish delegation also included Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and head of the National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan.
The meeting came a few days after Trump ordered a quick withdrawal of all 2,000 US forces from Syria claiming victory over the Daesh terrorist group in the war-stricken country.
Turkey is also preparing to launch an operation against anti-Damascus Kurdish militants, who have long enjoyed US support, in parts of northern Syria that lie east of the Euphrates River.
On Friday, Syrian army units entered the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Manbij for the first time in years. It followed the Kurds' call on Syrian government forces to protect Manbij.
Cavusoglu, for his part, confirmed that Turkey and Russia share a common position on Syria's issues, including the need to eradicate all the terrorist groups there.
"We confirmed our readiness and determination to continue this struggle in order to finally clear the territory of Syria from this evil," he said.
The top Turkish diplomat further noted that his country would continue its "close cooperation" with Russia and Iran in Syria and the region.
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