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Syria Today – How Moscow Meeting Failed, Israeli Raids Intensify, Canada Repatriates Citizens

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – How Moscow Meeting Failed, Israeli Raids Intensify, Canada Repatriates Citizens

The quadruple meeting, hosted by Moscow, ended with no agreement on the major issues. The participants agreed to continue consultations regarding Syria, and diplomatic sources told Anadolu News agency that they discussed the necessary preparations for the upcoming meeting between the foreign ministers of the four countries: Syria, Turkey, Russia, and Iran.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the consultations discussed issues of preparing for the meeting between the foreign ministers of the four countries. 

However, it seems that President Assad is giving priority now to the rapprochement with the Arabs before the Riyadh summit, in order to obtain support in consultations with Turkey. 

Assad is not in rush to normalize relations with President Erdogan before the elections.

Deputy foreign minister, Ayman Sousan, head of the regime’s delegation to the meeting stressed that the actual start of withdrawal from Syria is the gateway to re-establishing contact with the Turks.

Sousan pointed out that his government dealt positively and openly with the efforts aimed at restoring communication between Syria and Turkey, but reaching this goal has requirements, the first of which is full commitment to “Syrian sovereignty”. The regime’s delegation also emphasized the need to combat terrorism and restore the authority of the Syrian state to all its lands.

The meeting was attended by Mikhail Bogdanov, Special Representative of President Vladimir Putin in the Middle East and African countries representing Russia, Burak Akjabar, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister, and Ali Asghar Haji, Political Affairs Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs representing Iran, in addition to the Assad regime delegation.

Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iran kicked off in Moscow on Monday negotiations aimed at overcoming obstacles that are hindering the normalization of relations between Ankara and Damascus.

Russia denies Syrian statement. 

The four officials started off with bilateral meetings. The Syrian government delegation, headed by deputy FM Ayman Sousan, held talks with the Russian delegation, headed by Presidential Special Envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev and deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov. It then met separately with the Iranian delegation, headed by Ali Asghar Khaji, the Iranian foreign minister’s senior advisor for special political affairs.

The Turkish delegation held separate talks with the Russian and Iranian delegations.

The meetings were all held behind closed doors and revealed disagreements between Moscow and Damascus.

Russian media, quoting Syria’s state news agency SANA, reported that Moscow and Damascus were in agreement on “the need to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ending Turkey’s illegal deployment there.”

However, a Russian diplomatic source denied the report in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Claims that the two sides were in agreement over the illegal Turkish deployment in Syria are untrue,” it added.

Rather, the source stressed that the military presence there “is important because it is helping maintain a calm, end the fighting between Syrians and focus the fight on terrorism.”

It said the future of the deployment of Turkish forces should be tackled in talks between Turkey and Syria. Both parties must take into account the circumstances that led the situation to where it is now and address ways to tackle it.

He stressed that these are positions that Russia has always maintained.

Syria slams EU for its “flagrant double standards it adopts”

Syria affirmed that the European Union Council and Parliament agreed to adopt the so-called “anti-coercion tool” in the field of trade revealing the flagrant double standards adopted by this Union, according to a statement by the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Wednesday.

“Syria is astonished by such an agreement adopted by the EU punishing countries it alleges that they impose coercive measures on other countries, while the EU itself imposes illegal coercive measures on numerous developing countries, including Syria.” The Ministry said. 

The statement read that this stance unequivocally reveals the blatant double standards adopted by the European Union.

Syria calls on European Union to adopt a policy that is more balanced and consistent with the principles of international law, UN resolutions and human rights instruments, along with the immediate, complete and unconditional lifting of illegal unilateral coercive measures and the cessation of collective punishment policies against the peoples of the targeted countries, the Ministry concluded.

What’s Behind the Uptick in Israeli Strikes on Syria?

Israel has carried out four strikes on Syrian government-held areas in less than a week, targeting Syrian government forces and pro-Iran groups. Israel rarely comments on the strikes, but has said it will not allow its arch-foe, Iran, to extend its footprint in Syria. 

The reasons for the uptick in strikes, according to The Defense Post, include a security incident in Israel last month that triggered Israeli strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah bases in Syria, and Iran’s attempts to build up its arsenal in Syria in a way that impacts Israel’s ability to launch attacks when it wants. The strikes also send a message that Israel is determined to safeguard its frontiers, security, and citizens even during internal crises and legal overhauls.

Repatriation of Canadian women and children detained in Syrian camps underway

CBS News reported that the Canadian government has begun repatriating a group of women and children from Kurdish-controlled camps in Syria suspected of having ties with ISIS, according to immigration lawyer Asiya Hirji. The effort is part of a deal struck by Global Affairs Canada in January to bring back six women and 13 children. However, it is unclear whether a Quebec mother and her six children, represented by Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, are part of the process. Greenspon said the mother agreed to send her children to Canada but wanted to go with them. The government has agreed to repatriate 19 women and children in total.

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