Iran, Russia and Turkey leaders to meet for crunch talks on Syria
Syria Iran, Russia and Turkey leaders to meet for crunch talks on Syria
Key powers to hold summit before feared offensive to recapture Idlib province
The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey will meet in Tehran to discuss the war in Syria, which is likely to focus on a possible military offensive to retake the la st large rebel enclave of Idlib.
The summit between Hassan Rouhani, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan on Friday may determine whether diplomacy halts any military action. But each country has its own interests in the years-long conflict.
Iran wants to keep its foothold in the Mediterranean state neighbouring Israel and Lebanon. Turkey, which backed opposition forces against Bashar al-Assad, fears large numbers of refugees fleeing a military offensive and destabilising areas it holds in Syria. Russia wants to maintain its regional presence.
âThe Tehran summit can produce peace and reconciliation in Syria, or it can deepen the mess created by endless bouts of violence mainly instigated by the Assad regime,â Ä°lnur Ãevik, a senior adviser to ErdoÄan, wrote in the Daily Sabah newspaper.
North-western Idlib province and the surrounding areas are home to about 3 million people â" nearly half of them civilians displaced from other parts of Syria. T hat also includes an estimated 10,000 hardcore fighters, including al-Qaida-linked militants.
For Russia and Iran, both allies of the Syrian government, retaking Idlib is crucial to completing what they see as a military victory in the civil war after Syrian troops recaptured nearly all other major towns and cities, largely defeating the rebellion against Assad.
A bloody offensive that creates a massive wave of death and displacement, however, runs counter to their narrative that the situation in Syria is normalising, and could hurt Russiaâs longer-term efforts to encourage the return of refugees and get western countries to invest in Syriaâs postwar reconstruction.
The US adviser for Syria, Jim Jeffrey, on Thursday said there was âlots of evidenceâ chemical weapons were being prepared by Syrian government forces.
The White House has warned that the US and its allies would respond âswiftly and vigorouslyâ if government for ces used chemical weapons in the widely expected offensive.
The streets of Tehran were quiet on Friday, the second day of the Iranian weekend. The countryâs state-run IRNA news agency described the summit as potentially offering an âagreement on peace and securityâ in Syria.
A former Iranian diplomat, Ali Akbar Farazi, told IRNA the summit shows that solving regional issues âin a fair way that agrees with the interests of all sidesâ remains important for the three countries.
For Turkey, the stakes could not be higher. The country hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees and has closed its borders to newcomers. It has also created zones of control in northern Syria and has several hundred troops deployed at 12 observation posts in Idlib.
Turkey also does not want to see another Kurdish-controlled area rise along its border, as it already faces in northern Iraq.
Ãevik was forthright in his article in the Daily Sabah, saying: âAssad bolstered b y Iranâs land assets and Russian air power and his use of chemical weapons has punched his way into opposition strongholds and hence massive gains for the Damascus regime.
âYou still need moderate opposition groups who represent the Sunni suffering masses in Syria to achieve a viable political solution and durable peace in this country,â he wrote. âIran and Russia are the fighting forces in Syria and have brought blood and tears.âTopics
- Middle East and North Africa
- Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan
- Vladimir Putin
- Hassan Rouhani
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