Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have been working closely to end the fighting in Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria

  • Regime ally Russia and Turkey, which supports rebels, have been on opposite sides in the Syrian war
  • “We are working on a joint coordination center,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said

ISTANBUL: Turkey and Russia are discussing a “coordination center” to better manage their operations in Syria’s rebel-controlled Idlib province, Turkey’s defense minister said.
Regime ally Russia and Turkey, which supports rebels, have been on opposite sides in the Syrian war.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have been working closely to end the fighting. A Russian-Turkish deal for a demilitarised zone last year protected the Idlib rebel bastion.
The two countries and Ankara are already preparing joint patrols around the northwestern Syrian region.
“We are working on a joint coordination center,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said after a meeting Wednesdayg, according to a ministry statement on Thursday.
His remarks came as Russian jets carried out air strikes in Idlib on Wednesday, the first such attacks since the Turkish-Russian deal was signed in September as a way to prevent major bloodshed.
At least 13 civilians, including six infants were killed in the raids, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor that relies on sources inside Syria.
Earlier this month, Turkey said its forces and Russians would begin ground patrols around Idlib province as part of their cease-fire deal.
Idlib is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
HTS in January took control of the administration of Idlib’s region where three million people have been protected.
A Turkish-backed National Liberation Front controls part of the rebel stronghold.
The Russian-Turkish agreement was supposed to see hard-line jihadists withdraw from Idlib but they never did.
The cease-fire has held except for sporadic bombardments and skirmishes, avoiding an all-out Syrian military assault.


Iranian FM in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart as part of regional tour

Updated 30 min 3 sec ago
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Iranian FM in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi counterpart as part of regional tour

  • During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister
  • Discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries

BAGHDAD: Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif landed in Baghdad on Saturday for talks with his Iraqi counterpart, an Arab News reporter confirmed.

During his his two-day visit, Zarif will also meet the Iraqi president and Iraqi prime minister. On Sunday morning, Zarif will meet several senior politicians before he heads to Najaf to meet some clerics, sources told Arab News.

The discussions will mainly focus on the current crisis and its impacts on the two countries in addition to possible options to reinforce the attempts to start dialogues with the related sides to reach a compromise or solutions for the current standoff between Iran and US.

The Iranian official will leave Iraq on Monday. Zarif's tour will also include trips to Turkey, India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi will begin a separate tour on Sunday which will see him visit Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, according to Iranian news sources.