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Turkish Sources: Iranian Initiative to Normalize Ties Between Erdogan and Assad | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syria Democratic Forces fighters carry their weapons in a village on the outskirts of al-Shadadi town, Hasakah countryside, Syria February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Ankara, Beirut-Clandestine negotiations under an Iranian mediation were held between officials from the Bashar Assad regime and Turkish figures with a possibility to reach reconciliation between Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan, sources in Tehran and Ankara said.

On Tuesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab-African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari, heading an official delegation, arrived in Ankara to discuss the latest developments at the Syrian level. His trip to Turkey coincided with news leaked about Turkish-Syrian meetings under the mediation of Iran, which is trying to normalize relations between both Ankara and Damascus.

Iran’s news agency IRNA reported Ansari was in Ankara to discuss developments in Syria with Turkish officials.

IRNA said: “A new development was seen lately in the policies of the Turkish government towards the crisis in Syria, when it announced its readiness to cooperate with Iran and Russia to solve the Syrian crisis.”

Sources expect that Erdogan lowers his harsh positions towards the Assad regime, in exchange for a Syrian cooperation to prevent the creation of any Kurdish entity in northern Syria.

The source also revealed that Ismail Hakki, one of the most leading Turkish diplomats, is the person conducting the negotiations on Ankara’s behalf. Hakki is a retired general who had supervised an agreement reached between Syria and Turkey in 1998 during the crisis with head of Kurdistan Workers’ Party Abdullah Ocalan, who was imprisoned 17 years ago in the Turkish Imrali Island.

In a sign of rapprochement, an official from the media office of the Kurdish self-administration in North Syria said: “A final agreement has been reached under a Russian patronage to stop the fighting between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and regime forces in the city of Hasakah.”

Meanwhile, the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), which are mainly formed by the People’s Protection Units, threatened on Tuesday to face any aggression launched by the Turkish Army or the Ankara- allied Syrian opposition factions to control the city of Jarablus, in the countryside of northeast Aleppo, the last ISIS-controlled town on the Turkish border.