Turkey on Monday denied it had forged a “bargain” with Russia over the future of Syria hours before a key ministerial meeting including Iran.
TURKISH AND RUSSIAN RELATIONS DIPPED TO THEIR WORST LEVEL
Turkish and Russian relations dipped to their worst levels since the Cold War last year when a Turkish jet shot down a Russian fighter jet.
But a reconciliation deal was signed earlier this year and despite being on opposing sides in the Syria conflict – Ankara backs rebels trying to topple Moscow ally President Bashar al-Assad – the rhetoric has warmed considerably.
THIS HAS LED TO SUGGESTIONS THAT TURKEY AGREED TO RUSSIA HELPING ASSAD
This has led to suggestions that Turkey agreed to Russia helping Assad to retake all of Aleppo, while Moscow vowed not to interfere in Turkey’s own military operation in northern Syria. A ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey has allowed thousands of civilians to leave rebel-held Aleppo.
“That’s not how we see it,” a senior Turkish foreign ministry official said. “It is not like we make a kind of a bargain. We don’t see any connection.”
In a military operation that began in August, Turkish forces and rebel allies are now pressing on the Syrian town of al-Bab where they have encountered stiff resistance from Islamic State (IS) militants.
PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPATIENT TO SEE MORE RESULTS
“People are more impatient to see more results,” said the official. “It is difficult but it will continue.”
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Monday that a total of 12,000 civilians have so far been evacuated from Syria’s east Aleppo since the Russia-Turkey deal was announced last week. That figure includes 4,500 people since midnight, he added.