Four-way joint center to be established in N Syria: Minister

Four-way joint center to be established in N Syria: Minister

Four-way joint center to be established in N Syria: Minister

Türkiye, Russia, Iran and Syria will establish a joint center in northern Syria to monitor the developments in the region, the Turkish defense minister has informed and stated that talks between Ankara and Damascus for the normalization of ties will continue, urging the latter to be more realistic in its demands.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar provided information about the ongoing talks between Türkiye and Syria under the mediation of Russia and Iran in an interview with CNN Türk late on May 23.

“We have decided to set a joint center on the Syrian soils. We have also agreed to the continuation of talks [with Syria]. This center will monitor the incidents in the field,” he said. The center will have officials from Türkiye, Syria, Russia and Iran who are carrying out the normalization process between Ankara and Damascus in a quadruplet format.

Under the mediation of Moscow and Tehran, Ankara and Damascus have launched talks for normalizing ties after more than a decade of incommunicado due to the civil war that started in the latter in 2011. The defense and foreign ministers of the four sides have already held meetings in the past six months with expectations that the process will continue following the Turkish elections.

“Our Syrian interlocutors should have a better understanding of the realities [in Northern Syria]. Otherwise, their unrealistic demands will prolong the process,” Akar said.

The defense minister refers to Damascus’ insistent calls for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from the Syrian territories in order to make progress in the political talks. Akar said Türkiye is not in Syria for occupying the country but for securing its borders against the terrorist threats from the YPG and ISIL.

“We are not an occupying force. But we can’t leave the security of our borders to the mercy of others. We have pushed terrorists off our border through our military operations. In one way, we are contributing to the protection of the territorial integrity of Syria,” he noted.

Stressing that the United States’ support to the YPG is paving the way for establishing a terror state stretching from the Iraqi border to the Mediterranean coast in northern Syria, Akar said this plan was nixed thanks to the Turkish military interventions.

No withdrawal from Syria

In the meantime, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu explained that the withdrawal of the Turkish troops would not be possible in the short run due to the continued terrorist threats.

In an interview with the daily Hürriyet on May 24, Çavuşoğlu underlined that Türkiye is a supporter of Syria’s political unity and territorial integrity. “The best solution is to reach a lasting stability in Syria by implementing the political process,” he said, referring to the resolution 2254 of the U.N. Security Council that stipulates a conciliation between the Assad regime and the opposition.

“If we withdraw now, the terror organizations will fill the vacuum. That means armed conflict and additional refugee burden on Türkiye,” Çavuşoğlu stated.

Türkiye has troops in northern Syria, including the Idlib province, where tens of thousands of radical terrorists are sheltered along with more than 3 million civilians. Ankara is concerned that any military action in the region can trigger a fresh wave of refugees towards Türkiye, which is already hosting over 3.6 million Syrians.