Erdogan reveals cooperation with Syrian government on terrorism issues

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed on late Friday a collaboration between his country and the Syrian government regarding what he called “fighting terrorism.”

The president’s statements to reporters came while he was on board of the presidential plane returning from a one-day trip to Russia.

On Friday, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met in the coastal Russian city of Sochi to discuss regional and international issues, most notably Syria and Ukraine.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the two sides stressed the importance of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity, fighting terrorism, and advancing the political process in Syria.

Questioned about Russia’s rejection of the planned Turkish military operation in northern Syria, Erdogan told reporters that “Putin maintains a fair approach towards Turkey in this regard.”

He noted that Russia understands his country’s security concerns, but prefers that Turkey solve them with the Syrian government.

Erdogan said that his country’s intelligence has already been working with its Syrian counterpart regarding what he called “counter-terrorism,” but “the whole point is to get results.”

By terrorists Erdogan refers to the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and its military wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The AANES-held areas of north and east Syria are a regular target by Turkey, which sees the administration as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been fighting Ankara since 1984.

The Turkish president said that he asked for Russia’s support in this regard.

“Although Turkey’s intelligence works with its Syrian counterpart, terrorist groups are still there in Syria. You need to support us in this matter,” he said.

On July 27, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country would provide all kinds of political aid to the Syrian government in terms of driving out “terrorists.”

“We will provide all kinds of political support for the [Syrian] regime’s work in this regard. It is the natural right of the [Syrian] regime to remove the terrorist organization from its territory,” said Cavusoglu in a televised interview with Turkish Channel TV100.

Reporting by Adnan Hamo