Al-monitor | : On April 4, the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey met in Ankara to hold a trilateral summit within the framework of the Astana process to discuss the latest developments in Syria. It was the second round of high-level talks between the three heads of government after their first meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on Nov. 22, in which they agreed to continue their contacts in order to facilitate the process of finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict.
The second summit came as the situation on the ground in Syria has undergone significant developments over the past four months. On the one hand, Ankara’s military operation in northern Syria against Kurdish groups has resulted in the taking over of Afrin by Turkey and its local partners, with the possibility that Turkey may extend the scope of its operation further to the west still on the horizon. On the other hand, the Syrian army, with the direct help of Russia and Iran’s tacit support, has managed to gain almost full control of the strategic Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta.
Having been identified as standing at the two opposite ends of the Syrian conflict, Russia and Iran on the one hand and Turkey on the other showed an unprecedented level of restraint toward each other’s latest military moves in the war-torn country. While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that Ankara and Moscow “have no disagreements” over Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, some reports even suggested that Russia was actually helping Turkey to reach its goals in Afrin. For its part, while expressing concern over the situation in eastern Ghouta, Turkey stopped short of directly condemning the Russian-backed military moves in the area. Meanwhile, Iran apparently preferred to keep a low profile regarding both cases.
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