September 1, 2023
From Syria 360

The Cradle  News Desk

The Turkish army and armed groups affiliated with Ankara control large chunks of Syria’s northern regions

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Damascus on 31 August to  bilateral relations, the situation in the West Asian region, the return of the Syrian refugees, and efforts to end the Turkish occupation of territories in northern Syria.

Assad stated, “Our policies were sound, which indicates that the international picture has become clearer due to the impact of events and changes taking place in the world, and it enhances our confidence in the approach we are taking.”

With Iranian and Russian support, Syria has been able to withstand a US-led proxy war that has lasted over a decade. The US and its regional allies used Islamic extremist groups, including the Nusra Front and ISIS, in an effort to topple the Damascus government starting in 2011.

“The Syrian government, nation, and army emerged victorious from a global terrorism war against them, and now Syria is in its best condition, and we are happy that today the region and the world realize Syria’s real power,” Amir-Abdollahian told President Assad, a day after he arrived in the Syrian capital on a two-day visit.

He added that the enemies of Syria are still pursuing their political goals through sanctions and economic pressure on the Syrian government and people.

The US and Israel have attempted to take advantage of recent protests in the Druze-majority region of Suwayda in southern Syria to encourage separatism and calls for overthrowing the government in a campaign similar to the one that sparked war in 2011. The protests started earlier this month due to the difficult economic situation facing Syrians amid ongoing US sanctions.

Additionally, large parts of Syria remain occupied by foreign powers and their local proxies. The Turkish army occupies areas in northern Syria near Aleppo along with the Syrian National Army (SNA), which has former ISIS elements in its ranks. Ankara claims it is maintaining a buffer zone to protect Turkiye from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and which occupies northeast Syria with US troops.

President Assad emphasized in his meeting with the Iranian foreign minister that “Turkish withdrawal from Syrian territory is inevitable and necessary for the return of normal relations between Damascus and Ankara.”

Russian-brokered negotiations are ongoing between Syria and Turkiye to normalize relations. Still, Turkiye has refused to end its illegal occupation and support for proxy armed groups Damascus views as terrorist organizations. This includes Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, which occupies parts of northwest Syria in Idlib governorate.

The meeting between Assad and Amir-Abdollahian comes as the US-backed SDF in northeast Syria is facing a rebellion by Arab tribes it had previously partnered with. On 27 August, the SDF detained the leader of the Deir Ezzor Military Council, Abu Khawla, as well as other council members, after inviting them to a meeting in Hasakah.

Abu Khawla posted a video asking the prominent Al-Akidat tribe to rescue him and besiege all SDF headquarters to force them to release the council’s leaders, stressing that “it is not about Abu Khawla anymore, but a conflict between Arabs and Kurds.”