Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (RIA Novosti)
Russia says it has begun “thoughtful” work on Syria with Turkey despite having substantial disagreements over the issue.
“We have started to work in detail and thoughtfully on the Syrian issue with the Turkish side. We consider this work to be constructive and positive,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at a press conference in Moscow on Thursday.
However, “the existing disagreements cannot be solved in one day, because these disagreements are substantial, but a working process is underway,” she noted, expressing hope that “these disagreements can be solved through constructive work and negotiations within the existing international format.”
Zakharova also said that Moscow assesses the discussions “to be productive and promising.”
On August 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed hope that the two countries' differences over the crisis in Syria would be resolved. “I think it is possible to align our views and approaches,” Putin said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Moscow.
The visit was the first meeting between the two leaders since relations broke down in November last year, when Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft over Syria. It was also Erdogan’s first foreign trip since the failed coup in Turkey on July 15.
Syria hopes to have Turkey by its side
In an interview with the Lebanese al-Binaa newspaper published on Thursday, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad (seen below) also said Damascus expected the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia to succeed in bringing Turkey back on “the right track”, a move he said would ensure regional security and stability.
Miqdad noted that there is complete understanding between Damascus, Tehran and Moscow on the war in Syria, describing the country's anti-terror military action as a necessary factor to support the political process that aims to resolve the years-long crisis.
Iran and Russia assist the Syrian government in its fight against foreign-backed terrorist groups, including Daesh.
Russia has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria at the Syrian government’s request since September 2015. Iran has also been providing advisory assistance to the Syrian government.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The United Nations estimates that over 400,000 people have so far been killed in the conflict.