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Turkey’s Ceasefire with Syrian Kurds Ends Tuesday

Oct. 21, 2019 (EIRNS)—The 120-hour ceasefire between Turkish troops and the Syrian Kurdish YPG will end at 22:00 local time (20:00 UTC) on Tuesday, Oct. 22. At almost the same time on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a crucial meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.

The idea that Turkey could end up in talks with Damascus, mediated by Russia, is gaining ground in Turkey. Writing in Hurriyet Daily News, commentator Serkan Demirtas, citing the fact that a Russian delegation, led by Special Presidential Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, was in Ankara last week, and the next day was in Syria to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said that Russia and Iran will try to convince Turkey to open contact with Damascus at the November meeting of the Astana Process guarantors—Russia, Iran, and Turkey—for a Syrian settlement. Demirtas referred to Alexander Lavrentyev commenting, after his meeting with Assad:

“The general opinion was expressed that the path to reliable and long-term stabilization of the territories to the east of the Euphrates River lies through the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, the return of all Syrian lands to the control of the Syrian Arabic Republic government.”

Lavrentyev had earlier met with the Syrian Kurdish YPG representatives to facilitate its agreement with the Assad government. This resulted in a positive understanding. Demirtas then cited a phone conversation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Oct. 17, after which they called for “starting a dialogue between Damascus and Ankara, as well as between the Syrian authorities and the local Kurds. The parties emphasized that both Russia and Iran are prepared to assist in such meetings.”

All of this is aimed, he wrote, to push Turkey to start a dialogue with Syria which they have been aiming for ever since they started the Astana Process in early 2017. Now this can potentially begin using the 1998 Adana Protocol between Turkey and Syria, which stipulates that Syria would cease support to the PKK Kurdish separatists in Turkey. In fact, Turkey has confirmed that unofficial talks between Syrian and Kurdish security and intelligence officials take place in the field when necessary.

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