TEHRAN (Tasnim) – According to Syria’s official news agency, SANA, the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Russia, Syria, Turkey, and Iran held a four-party meeting in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria.
The meeting also discussed implementing the special agreement related to movements along the M4 international highway, which is considered a major crossing for the international shipping route that connects Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan via Syria.
Syrian officials have repeatedly stated that any move towards normalizing ties between Syria and Turkey can only come after Ankara agrees to withdraw the thousands of troops it has stationed in the northwest of the Arab country. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad emphasized that it is impossible to talk about normalizing relations with Turkey amid its occupation of Syria’s northern areas.
The quadrilateral meeting also focused on efforts to “counter terrorist threats and combat extremist groups in Syria,” as well as taking concrete steps to normalize Turkish-Syrian relations and return Syrian refugees to their country.
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that practical steps were discussed during the meeting to strengthen security in Syria and normalize Syrian-Turkish relations. Turkey’s Ministry of Defense also confirmed that the parties discussed “concrete steps” to normalize relations, as well as the fight against terrorist organizations and extremist groups.
The process of normalizing ties between Ankara and Damascus began on December 28, 2022, when the Russian, Syrian, and Turkish defense ministers met in Moscow. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has tied a Russian-brokered reconciliation with Turkey to an end to Ankara’s occupation of northern Syria and its support for militant groups fighting against the Damascus government.
Turkey and Syria severed their relations in March 2012, a year after the Arab country was hit by violent attacks by foreign-backed militants, some of whom were allegedly supported by Ankara. After 11 years, the two neighboring countries are taking steps towards reconciliation.