Moscow, 25 April 2023 (TDI): Russia’s defense minister hosted his counterparts from Iran, Syria, and Turkiye for talks that were part of the Kremlin’s efforts to help broker a rapprochement between the Turkish and Syrian governments.

Turkiye President Erdogan and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad had amicable relations in the 2000s after years of tensions between their countries following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.

But Syria’s civil war, which has left 500,000 people dead and displaced millions, strained relations between Damascus and Ankara, which has long supported rebel groups opposed to Assad.

On November 20, Ankara launched a barrage of airstrikes, killing dozens, including civilians, Kurdish fighters, and Syrian government troops in the Northern-Syria.

Read more: Iran-Russia-Türkiye hold 19th International Meeting on Syria

After weeks of deadly Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria, Kurdish forces and international players tried to understand that Ankara’s ground invasion threats are serious.

Last year, defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Turkiye and Syria met in Moscow on Dec 28. Views were exchanged on the participation of Iran in these meetings. But Hulusi Akar, Turkiye’s Defense Minister said that the relevant authorities approved this.

Moscow has been part of the military campaign in Syria since September 2015, teaming up with Iran to allow Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to reclaim control over most of the country.

Turkiye sees the Kurdish forces along its border with Syria as a threat and has launched three major military incursions since 2016.

With Russian and Iranian support, Damascus has won back much of the territory it lost in the early stages of the conflict.

The Russian defense ministry said practical steps were discussed in the field of strengthening security in the Syrian Arab Republic and normalizing Syrian-Turkish relations.

Turkiye’s defense ministry said that the meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere, and the parties confirmed their respect for Syria’s territorial integrity.