Deputy PM Kurtulmuş: Turkey switching its Syria policy track step by step

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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus delivers a speech during the 9th Ambassadors Conference at JW Marriott Hotel in Ankara, Turkey on January 10, 2017. AFP

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Monday that Turkey is going through a process in which it is reconfiguring its Syria policy due to the present circumstances.

Speaking with the pro-government A Haber TV on Monday, Kurtulmuş said: “Turkey is going to do a serious ‘rerailing’ [of its Syria policy]. We are implementing it step by step.”

Underlining that Turkey and Russia have succeeded in bringing a cease-fire in Aleppo and are working to expand it to all of Syria, Kurtulmuş said a meeting on Syria in the Kazakh capital of Astana was made possible because of Turkey’s new policy on Syria.

In December, after Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, discussed with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev the possibility of holding a meeting in Astana between the warring parties in the Syrian conflict, Putin said the leaders of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Russia were prepared to start peace talks.

Officials from Turkey-backed rebel group the Free Syrian Army (FSA) recently announced that the groups have decided to attend the peace talks with the government on Jan. 23 in Kazakhstan’s capital.

The FSA’s decision to attend the Astana talks came after five days of negotiations with Turkish officials in Ankara.

The Turkey-Russia brokered Aleppo truce, which began in Syria on Dec. 30 to pave the way for the new peace talks, excluded terror groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

Kurdish rebel groups the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which control most areas of northern Syria, are being excluded from the talks in line with the wishes of Turkey.

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