A Turkish newspaper close to the government revealed new scenes about the “Moscow meeting” between Ankara and the Syrian regime, based on statements by Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who met with his counterpart, Ali Mahmoud Abbas.
The newspaper Sabah, said in a report on Saturday that the Turkish delegation, which included Akar and intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, sent “three messages to Damascus” through the meeting.
The first is that Turkey “respects Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereign rights”. The second is that a third of Syria is under “the control of terrorist organizations,” and that the reason Turkish soldiers are in the country is to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), People’s Protection Units (YPG), and ISIS, as well as to prevent mass migration.
The third message is that Ankara “wants Syrians on its territory to return to their homeland voluntarily, safely, and with dignity,” the newspaper added.
Turkish Defense Minister Akar told Sabah that they told the Syrian regime’s delegation: “We have contributed to Syria’s territorial integrity in the sense of preventing the corridor of terrorism.”
“We also said that the most important issue for Syrians to return home is trust. Their safe, voluntary, and dignified return is essential, and at this stage, it has been agreed: let’s talk, find ways and methods.”
Although Turkey’s meeting with the Assad regime in Moscow is the first of its kind in 11 years, the Turkish minister noted: “It is not possible to expect everything to be resolved at once in this meeting.”
Regarding the possible operation in northern Syria, which Turkey has been threatening over the past few days, Akar added: “We have done and will do everything necessary to ensure our security and defence.”
When asked if the operation would be carried out with the Syrian regime, the Turkish minister replied: “If we can solve our defence and security problems at the end of these talks, that’s fine.”
“Shock and anger”
Although it was expected and paved the way for many statements, the meeting, which brought together officials of Ankara and the Assad regime, caused a state of “shock and anger” within the revolutionary street in Syria. It prompted the ignition of popular demonstrations that withdrew throughout the regions of northern Syria.
Hundreds of people took part in these demonstrations after Friday prayers, in which protesters carried banners against the Assad regime and the steps and attempts to normalize it.
They also chanted slogans in which they stressed the Syrian revolution’s constants: “We will not reconcile the regime. We will continue the revolution until it is overthrown.”
There was no comment from official opposition political bodies, including the Syrian National Coalition, the Syrian Interim Government, and the Syrian Negotiation Commission.
The same applies to the Ankara-backed Syrian National Army coalition in the northern countryside of Aleppo. At the same time, leaders and members of it tended to express their rejection of any attempt at normalization or reconciliation, through their Twitter accounts, after the Syrian Islamic Council published an angry statement about the Moscow meeting.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.