By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) - Türkiye briefed Russia, Iran, and other interlocutors on its latest air operation in northern Iraq and Syria at the nineteenth round of the International Meeting on Syria under the Astana format, with the parties voicing "grave concern" over increasing hostilities east of the Euphrates River.
The two-day meeting on Syria began held in Kazakh capital Astana on Tuesday, as Türkiye emphasized its "determination in the fight against terrorism."
"Our interlocutors offered their condolences for the terror attack conducted in Istanbul. The political process, work of the Constitutional Committee, situation on the ground, return of refugees and humanitarian issues were also discussed at the meeting," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Noting that a joint statement was adopted after the meeting, the ministry said the parties "emphasized their strong support to Syria's territorial integrity, the leading role of the Astana Process in the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis, their determination to fight against the separatist agendas that pose threat to the national security of neighboring countries, including cross-border attacks and infiltrations."
They also "condemned the increased presence and activities of terrorist groups and their affiliates under different names in Syria," as parties noted "the necessity to fully implement all arrangements related to the north of Syria as well as Idlib."
Emphasizing that the parties to the Astana talks took note of "all attempts to create illegitimate self-rule initiatives under the pretext of combating terrorism are unacceptable," they have also "condemned the actions of countries that support terrorist entities including these initiatives in north east of Syria."
In the joint declaration, they "expressed grave concern with increasing hostilities and all forms of oppression by the separatist groups against civilians in east of Euphrates, including through suppression of peaceful demonstrations, forced conscription, and discriminatory practices in the field of education."
"The Parties also reaffirmed their commitment to the end of the Syrian conflict through a viable and lasting Syrian-led, Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, emphasized the important role of the Constitutional Committee in the political settlement of the Syrian conflict," the Foreign Ministry added.
While bilateral meetings were held with the observer members of the Astana Process, and UN agencies, the ministry said "a meeting of Working Group on the Release of Detainees/Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons is also held. It is agreed to continue such activities within the Working Group."
The Astana format talks were launched in 2017 in a bid to restore peace and stability in the Arab country, which has been ravaged by war since 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.
The last Astana format talks on Syria were held this June.