21:17 GMT +323 March 2017
    Fighters from the Free Syrian Army disembark from an armoured vehicle near the town of Bizaah northeast of the city of Al-Bab, some 30 kilometres from the Syrian city of Aleppo, on February 4, 2017

    Turkey and Syria: How Bad Neighbors are Finding Unity in Fight Against Daesh

    © AFP 2017/ Nazeer al-Khatib
    Middle East
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    The Syrian government army has recently come very close to the positions of the Turkish army in Aleppo province. The two neighbors, whose relations leave much to be desired, are now coordinating their efforts. Russian and Turkish experts explain how Moscow's efforts contributed to easing tensions between the two countries.

    The Syrian government army has recently come close to the settlements in Aleppo province which have been previously controlled by the Turkish army and their allies from the armed Syrian opposition.

    The two neighbors whose relations have been long soured now seem to be joining their efforts in the fight against terrorists.

    Turkish forces and members of the Free Syrian Army are seen at the al Baza'a village on the outskirts of al-Bab town in Syria February 4, 2017
    © REUTERS/ Khalil Ashawi
    Turkish forces and members of the Free Syrian Army are seen at the al Baza'a village on the outskirts of al-Bab town in Syria February 4, 2017

    Commenting on the recent developments in Syria, the first deputy chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the upper house of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council Franz Klintsevich suggested that the joint cooperation between the two states is only possible due to the efforts of Moscow, which is acting as a mediator and is preventing any military clashes between Syrian and Turkey.

    Russia is coordinating both Syria's and Turkey's efforts in Aleppo province, heading off any provocations and clashes between the sides, the parliamentarian told Russia's Izvestiya newspaper.

    "We are working on the Syrian territory and can't help but pursue such coordination. We bring into accord all the decisions. It is not a simple job but it brings results," Klintsevich told the outlet.

    The Syrian government troops have recently continued their advance towards the north-east of the city of Aleppo and have come close to the territories under control of the Turkish armed forces and the Free Syrian Army. Moreover, the Syrian troops have retaken several settlements, earlier cleared by the Turks and their allied Syrian armed opposition groups from Daesh militants.

    There were no reports of any possible clashes or conflicts between the sides giving ground to suggestions that there are certain coordinated actions between Russia and Turkey, on the one hand, and Russia and Syria on the other, the newspaper says.

    Oleg Glazunov, an expert from Russian Association of Military Political Scientists and Associate Professor of the Moscow-based Plekhanov Russian University of Economics said that Russia is now actually Turkey's only ally in the region.

    "All the other countries which have an impact on the Syrian conflict have in fact turned away from Ankara. So Erdogan has no reason to tangle with Russia," he told the outlet.

    Besides, he added, Erdogan is much more interested in the Kurds whom he considers terrorists. Moreover, it is all about the Syrian territory. And if the territorial integrity of Syria remains an important condition of the Syrian peace process, the Turkish troops will have to leave it anyway.

    This all suggests that Ankara and Damascus are, to a degree, coordinating their  actions, he further said.

    Earlier this month Sputnik Turkiye talked to former chief of the Turkish General Staff Intelligence Department, Ismail Hakki Pekin, who said that Ankara has in fact found itself in a difficult situation, mainly due to foreign pressure.

    "The United States and Egypt are trying to force Turkey to make certain concessions, including establishing a Kurdish autonomous region in northern Syria and holding talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside Turkey," Pekin then told Sputnik.

    He also suggested that if such a Kurdish entity is established Ankara would be "encircled from the south" and will have to fight a "war on two fronts," against Daesh in Syria and against the PKK inside the country.

    Pekin then underscored that in order to achieve its goal, Washington is providing military and logistical support to the PKK, including supplying heavy weapons, anti-tank missiles and armored combat vehicles.

    "For Ankara, the only chance to derail this plan is to establish dialogue with Damascus and boost cooperation with Russia, Iran and Iraq," he then said. He further underscored that Turkey should take measures to repel the threat as soon as possible.

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    • avatar
      Austrian School
      ... "Washington is providing military and logistical support to the PKK, including supplying heavy weapons, anti-tank missiles and armored combat vehicles."
      If you have the USA as ally you don't need foes.
    • avatar
      The "armed Syrian opposition" allied to Turkey is made up of al Qaeda terrorists sponsored by Turkey that formerly were fighting the Syrian government, and have no interest in the future of Syria as a "secular" non-sectarian state. Turkey under Erdogan is a state sponsor of terror, and he created his current Kurdish problem by murdering Kurds in Turkey. Erdogan is largely responsible, along with the UK, US, Saudi, Qatar and Israel, for the destruction of Syria. Their crimes against the Syrian people and against President Assad deserve punishment and compensation.
    • avatar
      Marques rougesin reply todvdgrg09(Show commentHide comment)
      dvdgrg09, There are many Turkmens in Syria, who are ethnically closer to Turks than other Syrians. That said they should not fight other ethnic groups, that makes them terrorists.

      I agree with you that UK, US, Saudis, Qatar, Turkey and Israel should pay all costs of reconstruction in Syria, but that will most likely never happen - unless they finally succeed in their invasion.
    • avatar
      dvdgrg09in reply toMarques rouges(Show commentHide comment)
      Marques rouges, the problem to be solved is not one of ethnicity but of political ideology, and Islam is a political ideology that attempts to take the place of a government. There cannot be two governments, the law of the land must be supreme. I am not from the region and so I must not try to judge, only that is how I see Islam being a problem. Ethnic or religious rituals or symbols do not cause problems of themselves unless they conflict with the law of the land, and that is where "religion" belongs, in rituals and symbols.
      I agree the criminals will not make up for what they have done. They should be excluded from the settlement at least.
    • avatar
      another feather in the cap for Russian diplomacy.
    • avatar
      Marques rougesin reply todvdgrg09(Show commentHide comment)
      dvdgrg09, Sorry but this is bigotry at its best. Religions are not the cause of war. The real causes are political - which means power or wealth - religions are only tools to move the masses.

      Islam exists since more than 1,000 years, but it's only since the Saudis started to cooperate with US and other Zionist interests in the middle-east that radical Islam and its associated violence started to spread around the world, from the Gulf to Africa, as far as Indonesia, Thailand, etc.
    • avatar
      dvdgrg09in reply toMarques rouges(Show commentHide comment)
      Marques rouges,
      I appear to stand accused of bigotry. Looking up "bigotry" I see it is defined as "intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself". I plead guilty to intolerance of radical Islam, since to me it is the embodiment of intolerance. And I freely admit that I do not tolerate intolerance.
      As far as "mainstream" Islam goes, it appears to contain the seeds of intolerance, but more importantly its preachers pretend to know some kind of "correct" way of living which however can differ according to the preacher. I stated above my belief that no religious activity can interfere with the law of the land, no matter how that law is created. Finding the best way to make the best laws may involve some understanding of our purpose in the universe, which many people find difficult. If as you say religion is a tool for the wealthy and powerful, how does that come to be? How is it that people allow themselves to be tools for the wealthy and powerful? They willingly bow their heads in unison on a mat by the hundreds or even thousands, is that to achieve some kind of devout status or what? They make a lifetime's pilgrimage to rotate around a mystical rock, for what? Here I am singling out Islam, but Judaism contains equally ridiculous rituals, as do Christianity and Hinduism, when seen from the perspective of knowledge gained by scientific methods rather than by thought controlling books and codes.
      These old religions claim to somehow "know" a divine entity, but they ignore the creative power that permeates the universal system of which we humans are the pinnacle; they sanction endless wars against their enemies -- or the enemies of the wealthy and powerful who control them -- that turn human life, the greatest miracle there ever was, into a mass of suffering and chaos. If the people of Earth want to end wars and find the true human purpose, they should end their enslavement by such religions -- especially if they, like you, see that these religions are nothing but tools for the powerful and wealthy. If they want to "know" that creative power, they should study nature, because that is where the creative power resides -- not in so-called "holy" books written in times of ignorance.
      If you are wondering what I see as the true purpose of a human life, I will tell you: it is to grow. And the human race needs to grow out of its need for an external superpower that does not exist anyway.
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