Russia, Turkey and Iran are planning the withdrawal their troops from Syria, but Kremlin Russia told Ankara on Thursday it had no right to create any kind of safe zones inside Syria without the consent of the legitimate President Bashar al-Assad.
The consent of President Assad is a must when it is about creating the so-called ‘safe zones’ inside war-torn Syria, said Vladimir Putin to his Turkish counterpart. Such tirade is a clear signal about the tensions as a three-way summit on the Syrian conflict began.
Vladimir Putin is a long-time Assad’s ally, the Russian city Sochi welcomes the summit to discuss the recent developments and future of Syria. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have arrived Black Sea meeting on Thursday to discuss another sensitive aspect of Syrian war – a planned withdrawal of U.S. troops. That White House decision has engendered new tensions between Moscow and Ankara in particular.
All three countries have forces on the ground in Syria where they have coordinated their efforts despite sometimes differing priorities and interests.
Turkey, Russia have different points of view on the US troops withdrawal from Syria
Turkey wants to set up what it calls a safe zone in northeast Syria, parts of which are now controlled by US forces, and for the area near the Turkish border to be cleared of the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia.
But, speaking ahead of the start of the Sochi summit on Syria, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Ankara would need Assad’s green light to create any safe zone inside Syrian borders.
“The question of the presence of a military contingent acting on the authority of a third country on the territory of a sovereign country and especially Syria must be decided directly by Damascus,” Maria Zakharova said.
But that is likely to be an unappealing prospect for Erdogan, who has called for Assad to step down after years of civil war that has shattered his country.