UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS, ADDS MORE QUOTES
By Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak
ANKARA (AA) – The leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran on Monday stressed a strong commitment to Syria's sovereignty in a joint statement following a trilateral meeting on Syria.
“The Presidents emphasized their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” read a joint statement released following the trilateral summit on Syria.
The statement came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and Iran's Hassan Rouhani met in the Turkish capital Ankara for the fifth time to discuss the situation in Syria.
According to the statement, the leaders discussed the situation in northeastern Syria and “reviewed the developments following their last meeting in Sochi on 14 February 2019 and reiterated their determination to enhance the trilateral coordination in light of their agreements.”
The Syrian conflict can only be resolved through “Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” the leaders stated.
The leaders also rejected all attempts to “create new realities” on the ground in Syria under the pretext of fighting terrorism, said the statement, likely referring to U.S. support for the terrorist YPG/PKK, ostensibly in order to fight Daesh.
The statement also voiced their “determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries.”
- ‘Fully implement Idlib agreement’
The presidents “reviewed in detail the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and underscored the necessity to respect calm on the ground by fully implementing all agreements on Idlib, first and foremost the Memorandum of 17 September 2018”.
Turkey and Russia agreed last September in Sochi, Russia to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the de-escalation zone.
The zone is currently inhabited by about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced in recent years by regime forces from cities and towns throughout the war-weary country.
The leaders also condemned the U.S. decision to recognize Syria's occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, which in addition to violating international law also threatens regional peace and security, according to the statement.
Turkey on Monday hosted the fifth trilateral summit on the turmoil in Syria in the Astana format, based on a process launched in 2017 in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana.
Before the summit, Erdogan met Putin and Rouhani in the Cankaya Palace in the capital Ankara.
The summit aimed to assess the latest developments in war-weary Syria -- the northwestern city of Idlib in particular -- end the climate of conflict, ensure the necessary conditions for the voluntary return of refugees, and achieve a lasting truce and political solution to the Syrian turmoil.
The Astana peace process to end the Syrian conflict was launched in January 2017 at the initiative of Turkey, Russia, and Iran. A total of 13 rounds were conducted in the Kazakh capital.