Turkish, Syrian officials meet in Russia after years-long chill

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Turkey’s defense minister and intelligence chief met their Syrian counterparts in Moscow on Wednesday in a clear sign of normalization between Ankara and Damascus in the decade-long Syrian war.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the head of its National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, met with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas and Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk in Moscow along with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Turkish defense ministry said.

“Syrian crisis, refugee issue and efforts of joint fight against all terror organizations on Syrian soil were discussed in the constructive meeting,” the ministry statement said.

The Turkish, Russian and Syrian sides agreed to continue trilateral meetings, the statement added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this month announced that he proposed to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin forming a trilateral mechanism with Russia and Syria to accelerate diplomacy between Ankara and Damascus. He also said he wanted to meet Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

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After a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul last month, Erdogan said Turkey would mount a land operation into northern Syria on targets linked to YPG militia, which Ankara says is a wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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