Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country’s contacts with the Syrian regime were currently limited to the intelligence service, based on which Türkiye would set the road map for its relations with Damascus.
Erdogan repeated the threat of a military operation in northern Syria, calling on Russia and the United States to implement the understandings signed with his country in 2019, which stipulate clearing the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, the largest component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from within 30 km (19 miles) of its border.
In a television interview on Wednesday evening, Erdogan said that the Turkish intelligence service was holding talks in Damascus, based on which Türkiye would determine its road map.
Turkish and Western reports said that the head of the Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, held a series of talks with the head of the Syrian National Security Office, Ali Mamlouk, in Damascus, following similar meetings in Moscow and Tehran.
Turkish media stated that the meetings discussed the conditions offered by both sides, and the means to draw up a “road map for the safe return of Syrians in Türkiye to their country.”
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said last week that there were currently no plans to conduct contacts at the political or diplomatic level with the Syrian regime.
For his part, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad told Russian Sputnik agency that no communication was taking place at the level of the two foreign ministries. He added that his country considered the Astana process as the only path for a political solution.
Meanwhile, Erdogan renewed his threat to launch a Turkish military operation in northern Syria, which he had previously announced in May, saying that it would include SDF positions in Manbij and Tal Rifaat.
He stressed the need for the SDF to withdraw 30 kilometers south of the Turkish border, in line with the understandings with Russia and the United States, based on which Türkiye halted the Spring of Peace military operation in October 2019.