Türkiye and the Bashar Assad regime may cooperate within the
scope of removing the terrorist threats toward Ankara as well as
maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity, Omer Celik, the
spokesperson for Türkiye’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK
Party) said, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah.
Speaking to reporters at the party headquarters in Ankara, Celik
said that talks with the regime are ongoing on the level of
intelligence institutions and could lead to political-level
meetings once the intelligence talks are ripe.
“Such kind of a cooperation would bear highly efficient fruits,”
Erdogan previously said he could meet with Assad when the right
time comes, reinforcing tentative recent steps to restore ties
between the two sides in its southern neighbor’s war.
Any normalization between Ankara and Damascus would reshape the
decadelong Syrian war. Turkish backing has been vital to sustaining
Syrian moderate opposition in their last major territorial foothold
in the northwest after Assad defeated the opposition across the
rest of the country, aided by Russia and Iran.
Celik’s remarks came as Türkiye said it may launch a ground
operation into Syria against the YPG, the PKK’s Syrian wing, which
is supported by countries such as the U.S. and Russia. However, the
Assad regime itself is not content with the terrorist group
controlling almost one-third of the war-torn country, presenting a
window for cooperation between Ankara and Damascus.
The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S.,
Türkiye and the European Union. Washington’s support for its Syrian
affiliate, the YPG, has been a major strain on bilateral relations
The U.S. primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria
to fight against the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand,
Türkiye strongly opposed the YPG terrorist group’s presence in
northern Syria. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.’ support for
the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Türkiye and terrorizes
local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.
Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided
military training and given truckloads of military support to YPG
terrorists, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns.
Recently, Türkiye launched Operation Claw-Sword, a cross-border
aerial campaign against the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian
wing, the YPG, which have illegal hideouts across the Iraqi and
Syrian borders where they plan attacks on Turkish soil.
The country’s air operation followed a PKK/YPG terrorist attack
on Nov. 13 on Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Street that killed six
people and left 81 injured.
After the air operation was launched, President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan also signaled a ground operation to northern Iraq and
northern Syria to eliminate the terrorist threat, adding, “This is
not limited to just an air operation.”
The president specified northern Syria’s PKK/YPG-controlled Tal
Rifaat, Manbij and Ain al-Arab (also known as Kobani) regions as
possible targets to clear of terrorists.
Tal Rifaat lies 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of the border with
Türkiye. The PKK/YPG controls the city and surrounding villages,
and Russian troops are present in the area. The Syrian National
Army (SNA) controls areas surrounding Tal Rifaat from the north,
while Russian-backed Syrian troops control zones mostly to the
Russian troops are deployed in some PKK/YPG-controlled border
areas of northern Syria following a 2019 agreement that sought to
avert a previous Turkish operation threat.
Meanwhile, political consultations between Türkiye and Russia
will be held in Istanbul on Thursday and Friday to discuss regional
issues as well as Ankara’s potential operation.
Russia joined Syria’s 10-year conflict in September 2015, when
the regime’s military appeared close to collapse, and has since
helped in tipping the balance of power in favor of Assad, whose
forces now control much of the country. Hundreds of Russian troops
are deployed across Syria and they also have a military air base
along Syria’s Mediterranean coast.
Delegations headed by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal
and his Russian counterpart Sergey Vershinin will address the Black
Sea grain export deal, as well as regional issues such as Syria,
Libya and Palestine, the foreign ministry said in a statement on
Türkiye and Russia are also cooperating on the Syrian issue
within the scope of the Astana process. The Astana Process was
launched in 2017 in a bid to restore peace and stability in the
Arab country, which has been ravaged by war since 2011 when the
Bashar Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.