Landmark talks between the Syrian and Turkish defense ministers in Moscow included border security and how Turkey can act jointly against Kurdish militants, Reuters reported, citing a senior Turkish official.
This marks the highest level meeting between the two countries since the start of the Syrian war more than a decade ago.
The rapprochement, which is being encouraged by Russia, a key ally of Syria, could potentially reshape the conflict.
However, challenges include the fate of rebel fighters supported by Turkey and the millions of civilians, many of whom have fled to the Turkish border to escape the Assad government’s rule.
“It was discussed how the Turkish side can act jointly against terrorist organizations such as the YPG [People’s Protection Units] and Daesh [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] in order to ensure the territorial integrity of Syria and the fight against terrorism,” Reuters quoted the Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying.
“It was emphasized that Turkey’s priority is border security.”
The Turkish and Syrian foreign ministers had a brief informal exchange on the sidelines of a regional summit in 2021, and Ankara acknowledged contacts between the intelligence services of the two countries.
In November Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was a possibility after diplomatic ties with Damascus were cut during the 11-year conflict.
In mid-December, he indicated that he could meet with Assad after the two countries’ defense and foreign ministers meet.
“We want to take a step as Syria, Turkey and Russia,” he said at the time.