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Report: Turkey weighs possibility of starting talks with Syria

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The national flags of Syria (L) and Turkey

Turkish media say Ankara is evaluating the possibility of starting talks with the Syrian government and that discussions are underway for new relations to be built between the two neighbors.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper, citing informed sources, said on Monday that discussions were taking place in the Turkish capital of Ankara on restoring normal relations.

“The balanced policy recently adopted by Turkey and the role that Ankara has played in recent months, especially in resolving the war in Ukraine, have made the current time appropriate for resolving the Syrian crisis,” the Turkish daily said.

Citing the sources, the paper said the already existing relations between Damascus and Ankara can be improved and that the current situation may open a new door of opportunities for Turkey, especially for resolving the Syrian issue and the question of the militants of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Hurriyet said Ankara was insistent on three topics: maintaining the unified structure and territorial integrity of Syria, ensuring the security of refugees returning to their country and the PKK’s activities.

The paper said Ankara believes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month indicated that he needed to take new initiatives and rally new support to be able to further stabilize his country.

Citing the sources, the Turkish newspaper said Ankara could turn this process in its favor if the "new phase" of relations with the UAE was considered, and that the success of this effort would lead to the return of at least half of the refugees residing in Turkey to their country.

Turkey's desire to resume relations with Syria comes at a time that there has been a thaw in Arab countries' relations with Syria in recent months, and it is likely that the suspension of Syria's membership in the Arab League will be lifted.

Turkey has been conducting an incursion against neighboring Syria’s northern parts since 2016 under the pretext of fighting back against Kurdish militants known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara associates the YPG with the PKK.

So far, it has deployed thousands of troops in the areas, in what Damascus has decried as, outright violation of its sovereignty.

Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

More than 40,000 people have been killed during the three-decade conflict between Turkey and the autonomy-seeking militant group.


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