Erdogan’s telephone traffic for Afrin

by The Region    


Ankara had heavy phone traffic after news came out yesterday (February 19) that the Syrian Army agreed with YPG and would be entering Afrin.

Turkey thwarted the possible deployment of Syrian government troops into the northwest Afrin region after talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and Iran's President Rouhani, Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Sources from the presidency said that the call with Putin touched on "issues related to forming new observation points" in Idlib, one of the de-escalation zones agreed upon in the Astana process.

A senior Kurdish official said at the weekend a deal had been struck for the Syrian army to enter Afrin and fight back against Turkey. On Monday morning, Syrian state media had said the pro-government militia would enter Afrin "within hours" - although the forces never materialised.

"The (Syrian deployment) was seriously stopped yesterday... It was stopped," Erdogan told reporters following a speech in parliament.

When asked if the deployment was stopped after talks with Putin, Erdogan said: "Yes, it was stopped after those talks".

On Monday Erdogan spoke to both Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about Syria, Ankara's government spokesman said. The three countries also agreed that their foreign ministers would meet in Moscow on March 14.

In the speech to members of his ruling party AKP, Erdogan also promised that a siege of Afrin would begin soon.

"The siege of the Afrin city centre will start rapidly in the coming days. This way, both outside help to the region and city will be cut off, and the terrorist organisation will not have the means to negotiate with anyone," he said.

Erdogan has repeatedly said Turkey has no intention of backing down from its operation in Syria's Afrin region, launched to sweep the YPG from its southern border.

Ankara's onslaught has further scrambled the matrix of rivalries and alliances in northern Syria among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, insurgent factions, Turkey, Iran, the United States and Russia.

"A number of talks were agreed upon"

According to Russia's news agency TASS' report based on information from the Kremlin press service, " In discussing the situation in Syria, special attention was paid to ways of further enhancing cooperation in the Astana process."

"The readiness was confirmed for tight coordination of efforts by Russia, Turkey and Iran for the sake of achieving effective operation of the de-escalation zones and advancing the political process in line with the agreements achieved by the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi," the Kremlin's press service stated.

The parties to the call also noted "positive trends in Russia-Turkey cooperation" and agreed on a number of talks at different levels in the near future.

Erdogan-Rouhani call

Erdogan also had a phone call with Iran President Hassan Rouhani besides Putin. The meeting consisted of an information exchange on the latest developments in the Syrian issue, primarily in Afrin and Idlib.