MOSCOW: Russia and Turkey on Saturday agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria after last week’s shock announcement of a US military withdrawal, Moscow’s top diplomat said.
“Of course we paid special attention to new circumstances which appeared in connection with the announced US military pullout,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Moscow.
“An understanding was reached of how military representatives of Russia and Turkey will continue to coordinate their steps on the ground under new conditions with a view to finally rooting out terrorist threats in Syria,” Lavrov said.
Cavusoglu confirmed the two countries would coordinate Syria operations, adding they also discussed plans to help refugees to return home.
“We will continue active work (and) coordination with our Russian colleagues and colleagues from Iran to speed up the arrival of a political settlement in the Syrian Republic,” he said in remarks translated into Russian.
Besides Lavrov and Cavusoglu, Russian and Turkish defence ministers Sergei Shoigu and Hulusi Akar also attended the talks.
President Donald Trump last week unexpectedly said he was pulling all 2,000 troops from Syria, declaring that the United States had achieved its objective as the Islamic State group had been “knocked” out.
The extremist movement, also known as ISIS, has lost nearly all its territory, although thousands of its militants are thought to remain in war-battered Syria.
On Friday, Russia said it would host a three-way summit with Turkey and Iran on the Syrian conflict early next year.