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News > Syria

Russia and Turkey Prep Ground for US Withdrawal from Syria

  • Turkish-backed Syrian rebels stand with their weapons at Manbij countryside.

    Turkish-backed Syrian rebels stand with their weapons at Manbij countryside. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 December 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are expected to continue talks in early January.

Russia and Turkey agreed Saturday, during a high-level meeting in Moscow, to coordinate actions on the ground once the United States fulfills President Donald Trump’s promise to withdraw troops from Syria.

Syrian Army Enters Manbij as YPG Withdraws, Asks for Protection

Both sides agreed that, whatever they do in Syria, they will respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, a promise that Ankara has not always complied with, especially when it comes to attacks on Kurdish fighters within Syria.

"An understanding was reached over how the military representatives of Russia and Turkey on the ground will continue to coordinate their steps under the new conditions with an aim toward the final eradication of the terrorist threat in Syria," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Lavrov and Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu met in Moscow together with the countries defense and intelligence authorities Saturday to discuss the quickly-evolving situation in Syria after the U.S. president’s surprise announcement that he will withdraw 2,000 troops. Turkey, Russia, and Iran are guarantor countries of the ceasefre in Syria.

During the meeting, Moscow and Ankara representatives analyzed the scope and consequences of the decision of the U.S. president, though Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted that the U.S. army has spent the last "17 years leaving Afghanistan."

"Obviously, we have paid special attention to the new circumstances that have arisen with the US announcement that it will withdraw its troops," Lavrov said.

The countries were expected to talk about the city of Manbij, which was threatened by Ankara in an earlier announcement that it would enter the city to attack the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). However, no announcements were made in this regard.

Lavrov added that both sides have pledged to take measures to create conditions that allow the return of the majority of Syrian refugees, many of whom are in Turkish territory.

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