Turkey-US working group on Syria’s Manbij ‘on hold’
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
A Turkey-U.S. working group meeting on Syria’s Manbij will be on hold until the new U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo takes office, according to a U.S. diplomatic source.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his last visit to Turkey on Feb. 19 that Ankara and Washington had reached an understanding on Syria.
The first working group was held on March 8, in which the main principles of potential cooperation of Turkey and the U.S. were termed “constructive,” said the source, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on talking to the media.
“A constructive exercise has begun between the two countries. We will wait until the new U.S. secretary of state takes his office and the U.S. administration settles down after Tillerson is removed from office,” the source said.
The source added that the Turkey-U.S. working group may be held in May.
“The working groups on other issues may convene earlier. There is not a fixed date,” the source said.
About Turkey’s eight observatory points in Syria’s Idlib set up as part of the Astana peace talks, the source said the other guarantor countries — Russia and Iran — had set up similar observation points at areas not as critical as Turkey’s.
It is Turkey that entered mediation between armed opposition groups, anti-regime armed groups in Idlib and Bashar al-Assad regime forces, the source said, adding that Russia and Iran only aim to observe the regime forces.
Rouhani’s statement on Afrin
About Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s statement during a closed-door tripartite summit in Ankara that Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin should be handed over to the Syrian army, the source said Iran understands Turkey’s efforts to provide national security.
Turkey and Iran have agreed to support Syria’s territorial integrity and reject divisive discourses in the country, the source said.
Iran supports a political solution in line with the Syrian regime’s expectations and want to maximize the legitimacy of it, it added.
“We can say that it is a discourse adapted to observe the Syrian regime’s sensitivities.”
The source added that Turkey and Russia came to a mutual understanding on the stance against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) “although they do not totally agree on Syria.”