BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:35 A.M.) – Direct meetings between Syrian and Turkish military officials are taking place, Mehmut Yuva, a Syrian academic of Turkish origin at the University of Damascus, said on May 11th.
Citing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad as his source, Yuva said the Syrian and Turkish military and intelligence officers are negotiating a way to end the hostilities between the two countries.
“Turkey is an important country and we are open to cooperation with it”, Yuva quoted Assad as saying in his May 11 column for the left-wing nationalist Turkish daily Aydınlık.
Yuva said while the negotiations are ongoing, the Turkish government has been unable to agree on an approach to reconcile with Damascus after cutting diplomatic ties in 2012.
The Syrian president’s comments came in response to questions Aydınlık sent to him through intermediaries, said Yuva, who has reportedly acted as an interpreter during high-level meetings between Turkish and Syrian officials.
“If it is in line with Syria’s interests and does not harm our sovereignty, we could meet with Erdoğan”, Assad reportedly said.
In March, Erdogan said that while his government has no direct conversations with Damascus, they do maintain an open intelligence channel for both countries to exchange information.
Both Erdogan and Assad have traded jabs over the years, with the former calling the Syrian President a ‘murderer’ and saying Ankara can never reconcile with Damascus as long as this government stays in power.
In turn, Assad has called Erdogan a ‘terrorist’, who has aided and abetted the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and several other countries.