Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani hold news conference (ENG)

Clay Curtis
September 19, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) meet on Monday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at the presidential mansion and held a closed-door meeting that lasted nearly two hours.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran have laid a foundation for a lasting solution in Syria, said Russian President Putin.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Erdogan warned that any Syrian government attack on the posts would draw retaliation from Turkish forces, possibly risking a direct confrontation between Ankara and Damascus.

Speaking after talks between leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Iran in Ankara, Putin also said that from his point of view the deployment of USA troops in Syria was illegal, according to Reuters.

Erdogan said the three leaders would discuss developments in Idlib, the situation east of the Euphrates river in Syria's northeast, and migration.

According to the joint statement, the talks focused on Idlib, the last remaining territory held by rebels seeking to overthrow Assad.

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 USA support for the terrorist YPG/PKK, ostensibly in order to fight ISIL.

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A USA official said all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi dismissed Washington's accusations, calling them "blind and futile".

Rouhani said he hoped for elections to take place in Syria in 2020 or 2021.

The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran say they have agreed on the composition of a committee to rewrite Syria's constitution as part of a political solution to the country's civil war.

Rouhani also said Syria's reconstruction and the return of refugees were important issues.

The Iranian leader also accused Israel of "bombing innocent people" in Syria and said that the United States was either "assisting terrorists or interfering in Syria unnecessarily".

Ankara's acquisition of the S-400s may open the country up to U.S. sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which prohibits the sale of military technology to foreign entities that may breach or exploit classified components. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians, some already displaced from other parts of the war-torn country, have moved toward Turkey's border.

Turkey and the United States last month agreed on the so-called "security mechanism" to create a buffer between the Turkish border and Syrian areas controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

A de-escalation zone established a year ago to end the clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels in Idlib did not work, as Turkey failed to block the rebels from attacking Russian and Syrian army positions.

"It's not a good day to be an SDF member", said Selim Sazak, a researcher at Brown University's Watson Institute for global and Public Affairs in the US. "As long as the PKK/PYD presence in the country continues, neither Syria nor our region can find peace", Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

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