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Turkish and Russian forces may ‘expand’ joint patrols in Syria


Ankara, Turkey — Turkey’s defense minister said on Wednesday that Turkish and Russian militaries could “extend” their joint patrols in northern Syria as part of efforts to bring security to the region. .

Hulusi Akar did not elaborate on the plans, which came days after he held talks with his Syrian and Russian counterparts during a surprise meeting in Moscow. Akar’s talks with Syria’s Mahmoud Abbas mark the first ministerial-level meeting between Turkey and Syria since relations broke down with the outbreak of the Syrian civil war more than 11 years ago.

“We may expand joint patrols with Russia in northern Syria,” Akar told a group of reporters when asked about his discussions in Moscow, according to a Defense Ministry statement.

Akar added that talks between Russian, Syrian and Turkish officials would follow, adding: “Our hope is that this process will continue in a reasonable, rational manner. justice and success, and the war on terror will be successful.”

Turkey has threatened to launch a new military offensive into Syria against Kurdish fighters it says are responsible for the November 13 deadly bombing in Istanbul.

Moscow, which is pushing for reconciliation between Ankara and Damascus, has made it clear that it opposes a new Turkish invasion. It is not clear whether Russia is proposing to expand joint patrols between Turkish and Russian forces to prevent a new incursion.

Turkey and Syria have always stood on opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey backing rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. For its part, Damascus has denounced Turkey’s hold on swathes of territory in northern Syria that has been captured in a series of military attacks since 2016 aimed at driving out Kurdish militant groups.

Turkey and Russia began joint patrols in March 2020 after reaching a ceasefire earlier that month, ending a Russian-backed government assault on the last rebel stronghold in the west. north.

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