Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has revealed that a Syrian delegation met with the head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, in the Iranian capital of Tehran and had another meeting at the Kassab border crossing, expressing his readiness to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to The Syrian Observer news website.
“The Turkish officers have more understanding about what is happening in our country than Turkish politicians. There are major differences regarding Syria in Erdoğan’s government,” Assad said.
“We are open to cooperating with Turkey … and if it is in Syria’s interests and does not encroach on its sovereignty, we can meet Erdoğan.”
Assad’s remarks came during a closed meeting with representatives of official and private media on May 8, 2019, responding to journalists’ questions about all local and regional issues.
Erdoğan and Assad were allies before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Erdoğan later accused Assad of being a dictator and a “terrorist involved in state terrorism.”
Over the course of the eight-year conflict, Turkey has backed rebel groups against the Syrian government, with Erdoğan insisting there can be no political solution in Syria while Assad remains in power.