Putin’s envoy discusses Syria-Turkey ties with Assad
The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev has paid a visit to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, discussing recent trilateral meetings between Russia, Syria and Turkey, aimed at normalising relations between Ankara and Damascus.
While Lavrentiev told Assad that Russia seeks to bring the Turkish and Syrian foreign ministers to one table, Assad reiterated Damascus’ demand from Turkey “to end the occupation and support for terrorism” in Syria, Rudaw reported, citing a statement by the Syrian presidency.
Ankara’s relations with Damascus have deteriorated a decade ago following a civil war broke in Syria in 2011 and since then, former good “friends” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Assad became fierce “enemies”.
Turkey has supported armed Syrian rebels against Assad, providing them military support from the early stages of the civil war. Turkey also conducted three large-scale military operations into the neighboring country since 2016, targeting Kurdish militants who it deems to be terrorists and seized control of a large swathe of territory in Northwestern Syria.
Following Erdogan’s proposing Russian President Putin to mediate for rapprochement with the Assad regime, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Syrian counterpart Ali Mahmud Abbas met in Moscow late December with the participation of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for a first high-level contact between the two neighboring countries in 11 years.
Earlier this month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a tripartite foreign ministers meeting between Turkey, Russia and Syria would take place in the second half of January.
According to Rudaw, Assad told Russian envoy Lavrentiev that in order for the meetings to be “fruitful” and for the three countries to reach tangible goals, the trilateral meetings should be “based on prior coordination and planning between Syria and Moscow.”