By Nazli Yuzbasioglu
ANKARA (AA) - Ankara and Moscow are "closely collaborating" in Syria as Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in Afrin continues, Russia's Ambassador to Turkey Alexei Yerkhov said Wednesday.
"Russia and Turkey, we are closely collaborating now in the Syrian file," Yerkhov told a seminar titled "Diplomacy and Peace," organized by a university in Turkish capital Ankara.
"We have achieved quite a lot. We have started what we have called Astana process and within this Astana summit we have achieved the creation of four de-escalation zones," the Russian envoy said.
"Now together with Turkey, together with Iran we are preparing a new step. We are preparing the conference on a national dialog in Syria which is going to take place in Sochi next week," Yerkhov added.
The Syrian National Dialogue Congress set for Jan. 28-29 is set to be held in the Russian city of Sochi. It is expected to be attended by all sectors of Syrian society except for terror groups as it is prescribed by UN resolution 2254 that stands for the inclusive character of the inter-Syrian dialogue.
"If we go forward […] I hope very much there will be much more peace in the land of Syria," Yerkhov said.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the military, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being put on not harming any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.