Moscow Consultations: Russia, Syria Disagree on Turkish Deployment

The Russian and Syrian delegations meet in Moscow on Monday. (Russia Today)
The Russian and Syrian delegations meet in Moscow on Monday. (Russia Today)
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Moscow Consultations: Russia, Syria Disagree on Turkish Deployment

The Russian and Syrian delegations meet in Moscow on Monday. (Russia Today)
The Russian and Syrian delegations meet in Moscow on Monday. (Russia Today)

Russia, Türkiye, Syria and Iran kicked off in Moscow on Monday negotiations aimed at overcoming obstacles that are hindering the normalization of relations between Ankara and Damascus.

The deputy foreign ministers of the four countries held talks ahead of a potential meeting for their foreign ministers, said a source from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The source provided little details about the discussions that took place on Monday.

They started off with bilateral meetings between the officials. The Syrian government delegation, headed by deputy FM Ayman Sousan, held talks with the Russian delegation, headed by Presidential Special Envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev and deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov.

The Syrian delegation then met separately with the Iranian delegation, headed by Ali Asghar Khaji, the Iranian foreign minister's senior advisor for special political affairs.

The Turkish delegation held separate talks with the Russian and Iranian delegations.

The meetings were all held behind closed doors and revealed disagreements between Moscow and Damascus.

Russian media, quoting Syria’s state news agency SANA, reported that Moscow and Damascus were in agreement on “the need to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and ending Türkiye's illegal deployment there.”

However, a Russian diplomatic source denied to Asharq Al-Awsat the SANA report.

“Claims that the two sides were in agreement over the illegal Turkish deployment in Syria are untrue,” it added.

Rather, the source stressed that the military presence there “is important because it is helping maintain calm, end the fighting between Syrians and focus the fight on terrorism.”

It said the future of the deployment of Turkish forces should be tackled in talks between Türkiye and Syria. Both parties must take into account the circumstances that led the situation to where it is now and address ways to tackle it.

He stressed that these are positions that Russia has always maintained.

The Moscow consultations are set to continue on Tuesday.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had visited the Russian capital in March, laying out conditions for normalization relations with Ankara.

His demands included the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria and that it stop supporting terrorists, a reference to opposition-held areas in the Idlib region and its surroundings.



Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
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Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS

Israeli forces pounded areas in the central Gaza Strip overnight, killing three people and wounding dozens of others, according to medics, while tanks deepened their invasion into Rafah in the south, residents said.
Israeli planes struck a house in Al-Nuseirat camp, killing two people and wounding 12 others, while tanks shelled areas in Al-Maghazi and Al-Bureij camps, wounding many other people, health officials said, according to Reuters. Nuseirat, Maghazi, and Bureij are three of Gaza's eight historic refugee camps.
In Deir al-Balah, a city packed with displaced people in the central Gaza Strip, an Israeli airstrike killed one Palestinian and wounded several others on Thursday, medics said.
The Israeli military said on Wednesday forces were continuing their operations across the enclave targeting militants and military infrastructure in what it described as "precise, intelligence-based" activities.
More than eight months into the war in Gaza, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to storm: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the center. The operations have forced more than a million people to flee since May, the vast majority already displaced from other parts of the enclave.
In Rafah, near the border with Egypt, Israeli tanks stationed deep in the western and central areas of the city stepped up bombardment, forcing more families living in the far coastal areas to flee northward. Some residents said the pace of the raid has been accelerated in the past two days.
"The tanks took control of most of the areas in Rafah. People living by the beach have also started to leave toward Khan Younis and central areas in fear because of the continued bombardment," said Abu Wasim, a resident from Rafah's Al-Shaboura neighborhood, who quit his home over a week ago before tanks rolled in reaching the heart of the city.
Rafah housed over half of Gaza's 2.3 million people until May 7 when Israeli forces began the ground offensive into the city. Fewer than 100,000 are now believed to be left behind.
There has been no sign of let-up in the fighting as efforts by international mediators, backed by the United States, have failed to persuade Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire.
The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said fighters battled Israeli forces with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs, and have in some areas detonated pre-planted explosive devices against army units.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities freed 33 Palestinians who had been detained during the past months by Israeli forces in different areas of the enclave. The freed detainees were admitted into Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip after they complained of torture and mistreatment by Israeli jailers.