Russia, Syria, Turkey Defense Ministers hold talks in Moscow
Russia, Turkey, and Syria are holding talks on the level of the ministry of defense in light of the latest developments in the West Asian country.
The Russian, Syrian, and Turkish defense ministers held talks on Wednesday in the Russian capital, Moscow, to discuss means of resolving the Syrian crisis, the former's defense ministry said.
"On December 28, trilateral talks between the defense ministers of Russia, Syria, and Turkey took place in Moscow. The meeting discussed ways to address the Syrian crisis, the issue of refugees, and joint efforts to combat extremist groups in Syria," the Russian Defense Ministry said.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the defense ministers highlighted how the dialogue was constructive, stressing the need for all three parties to hold further talks to bring more stability to Syria and the whole region, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Defense Minister Akar and the head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), Hakan Fidan, met Syrian Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas and Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk in Moscow along with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
"Ways of resolving the Syrian crisis and the problem of refugees as well as joint efforts to combat extremist groups in Syria have been discussed," the Russian RIA Novosti news agency said, citing the Russian defense ministry.
"Syrian crisis, the refugee issue, and efforts of joint fight against all terror organizations on Syrian soil were discussed in the constructive meeting," the ministry’s statement added.
"Turkish, Russian, and Syrian defense ministers as well as intelligence chiefs in Moscow have agreed to continue tripartite meetings to ensure stability in Syria and in the region as a whole," it concluded.
On Christmas, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said his country was in talks with Russia to use Syria's airspace to conduct a cross-border operation against the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia in northeastern Syria.
The United States has been arming Kurdish groups in northeastern Syria, making grounds for oil and gas theft.
Turkey has conducted a number of operations in northern Syria against the US-backed SDF and the YPG, threatening further incursions over a period of months.
Earlier this month, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a phone call, during which they discussed several issues, such as bilateral ties and the Kurdish forces in Northern Syria.
Russia has been receiving indications from Ankara and Damascus about being open to making steps towards one another and about hopes for a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement, Russia's special presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, told reporters on November 23, following the 19th round of the Astana talks on Syria.
Last month, Turkey ramped up its military preparations after an explosion in Istanbul, which Kurdish militants were held accountable for, though denied involvement. Ankara then launched strikes against what it claimed to be YPG targets, and the president gave the possibility of a coming-ground offensive.
On Saturday, Akar announced that Turkey is in talks with Russia, which supports the Syrian Arab Forces, regarding the operation: "We are in talks and discussing with Russia about all issues including opening the airspace."
Erdogan has been threatening to conduct a new military incursion into northern Syria to move out Kurdish forces which he blames for the November bomb blast that killed six people in Istanbul.
The Turkish President also said his country is committed to destroying the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) "until its last militant is neutralized" and raised the possibility of conducting a ground operation soon.