Turkish, Syrian officials meet in Moscow after years-long chill

Ankara (Reuters) – Turkey’s defence minister and intelligence chief met their Syrian counterparts in Moscow on Wednesday in a clear sign of normalisation between Ankara and Damascus in the decade-long Syrian war.

Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar and the head of its National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, met with Syrian defence minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas and Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk in Moscow along with Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu, the Turkish defence ministry said.

“Syrian crisis, refugee issue and efforts of joint fight against all terror organisations on Syrian soil were discussed in the constructive meeting,” the ministry statement said.

The Turkish, Russian and Syrian sides agreed to continue trilateral meetings, the statement added.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan this month announced that he proposed to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin forming a trilateral mechanism with Russia and Syria to accelerate diplomacy between Ankara and Damascus. He also said he wanted to meet Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

After a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul last month, Erdogan said Turkey would mount a land operation into northern Syria on targets linked to YPG militia, which Ankara says is a wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).