Creating new perspectives since 2009

Turkiye agrees to withdraw military from northern Syria, following tripartite reconciliation talks

January 1, 2023 at 9:00 am

Turkish army members of 1st and 3rd Border Regiment Commands guard the border near Gaziantep, Turkiye [Mehmet Akif Parlak – Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye has agreed to fully withdraw its military from northern Syria following tripartite talks it held with the Syrian regime and Russia, in a drastic foreign policy change.

According to Syrian newspaper Al-Watan, which quoted an anonymous source in Damascus, the tripartite talks between Turkish, Syrian, and Russian defence ministers this week resulted in “Turkiye’s consent to completely withdraw its troops from the Syrian territories that it occupies in the north of the country.”

Ankara agreed to a number of other demands, including to respect Syrian sovereignty and fully open the M4 highway in northern Syria running through Aleppo to Latakia. Damascus and Ankara also agreed that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliated militias in north-east Syria are agents of the United States and Israel, and that those Kurdish groups pose the greatest danger to both Turkiye and Syria.

They additionally agreed that all three governments will establish a special trilateral commission to ensure that the agreements negotiated in Moscow are honoured. Addressing the meeting and its results, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar today told local media that “one shouldn’t expect that everything will be solved at once in a single meeting”.

READ: Syria does not trust Turkish statements on restoring ties

He added that Ankara has agreed with Damascus to continue talks in order to deepen their reconciliation efforts, which could reportedly potentially result in a joint anti-terrorist operation “if we can solve our problems related to defence and security, if we can meet our needs.”

The agreement comes after months of accelerated reconciliation efforts between the two countries, with Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government altering the almost decade-long policy of refusing to deal with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad after Syrian security forces brutally cracked down on peaceful protests and ignited the ongoing civil war in the country, in which Turkiye has backed Syrian opposition groups.

To many Syrians, especially refugees, the displaced, and those residing in the liberated areas in the north of the country, Ankara’s shift in policy is seen as a betrayal of them and the Syrian revolution. Protests have erupted throughout the northern territories, especially due to the fact that regime authorities are notorious for detaining, torturing, and often killing returnees and those formerly displaced by the conflict.

Hashtags and posts by Syrians throughout social media have also highlighted how they would rather die than accept reconciliation with the Assad regime and again endure its persecution.

READ: The world will regret bringing Assad in from the cold