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Erdogan Said Turkey Had Maintained Contacts with Damascus

ANKARA – Turkey has maintained modest contacts with the Syrian government, President Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday, Reuters reported Monday.
With the support of Russia and Iran, Assad has taken much of Syria from the rebel fighters, driving them out of most of their former strongholds.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in December that Turkey and other countries would consider working with Assad if he wins democratic elections. Last month, Ankara was in indirect contact with Damascus via Russia and Iran.
Erdogan suggested on Sunday that Turkey also had direct contact with the Syrian government.
“Foreign policy vis-à-vis Syria continues at a lower level,” he said in an interview with TRT television, adding that intelligence services operated differently from political leaders.
Erdogan said, Leaders can be cut, but intelligence units can communicate for their interests.
The Turkish president also said that a security zone project in north-eastern Syria should be created at a time when US forces are withdrawing from the region, could not be created by Western coalition forces without Turkey.
“We can provide security in the region. We can manage the area with you, “said Erdogan. “No problem there. But we can not leave the region for coalition forces.”
Washington said the proposed security zone should address Turkish concerns about the prevention of any cross-border threats by Kurdish militia fighters from the Palestinian defense group in northern Syria, while preventing Turkish military operations from cracking down Palestinian defense group.
Trump announced sharply its intention in December to withdraw US forces of 2,000 from Syria, despite the objections of key advisers, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest. One of the main concerns of critics of Trump’s decision is the fate of YPG if US forces leave.
The group has been the main ally of US forces fighting Islamic state in Syria. Turkey considers that the YPG is an inseparable terrorist group of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting the insurgency in the south-eastern Turkey, mainly Kurdish, since the 1980s.
Erdogan will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for talks on Syria in the Sochi resort in Russia on February 14.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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