Turkey and Russia have prepared an agreement for a ceasefire in Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday, adding that Ankara would not give up its opposition to regime head Bashar al-Assad staying on as leader.
The five-year-old Syrian civil war continued bringing along heavy casualties reported in the siege of a town held by terror group ISIS, and the Russian embassy in Damascus shelled.
Turkish minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s comments appeared to signal tentative progress in talks aimed at reaching a truce. While the insistence on Assad’s departure could complicate negotiations with his biggest backer, Russia, another Turkish official did not rule out a transitional role for Syria’s authoritarian.
Sources told Reuters that Syria could be divided into informal zones of regional power and Assad would remain in power for at least a few years.
A senior Turkish government official said on Wednesday that future discussions would likely hash out Assad’s role.
“We put importance on the establishment of a transitional government and that it would be one that meets the demands of the Syrian people,” the official said. “Whether or not Assad will take place in the government will be discussed in the coming period.”
Russia, Iran and Turkey said last week they were ready to help broker a peace deal after adopting a declaration in Moscow setting out principles that any agreement should adhere to. Russia has said the next talks are set for Astana, the Kazakh capital.
“There are two texts ready on a solution in Syria. One is about a political resolution and the other is about a ceasefire. They can be implemented any time,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. He said Syria’s opposition would never back Assad.
“The whole world knows it is not possible for there to be a political transition with Assad, and we also all know that it is impossible for these people to unite around Assad.”
The Kremlin said it could not comment on reports of an agreement.
Last week, Russia’s foreign minister said Russia, Iran and Turkey had agreed the priority in Syria was to fight terrorism and not to remove Assad’s regime – comments that suggested a shift by Turkey, which has long pushed for Assad to go.