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Damascus begins diplomatic campaign for pullout of Turkish troops — expert

"Syria's September 20 message to the UN Security Council containing criticism of Turkey's hostile actions indicates that Damascus feels it is the right moment for such a move towards Ankara, in particular, in the light of the sudden events in Afghanistan," Lebanese analyst Nidal Sabi pointed out

BEIRUT, September 23. /TASS/. Syria is going to use its participation in the ongoing 76th UN General Assembly session to launch a diplomatic campaign to get Turkish troops withdrawn from its territory, Lebanese analyst Nidal Sabi, a specialist on Syrian affairs, told TASS in an interview.

"Syria's September 20 message to the UN Security Council containing criticism of Turkey's hostile actions indicates that Damascus feels it is the right moment for such a move towards Ankara, in particular, in the light of the sudden events in Afghanistan," Sabi said. He expects that the issue of a Turkish troop pullout will be central to Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad's speech at the UN General Assembly.

"After creating a zone of de-escalation in northwestern Syria in 2017 Turkey is still unable to disarm the extremist groups entrenched in Idlib province," Sabi recalled. "Apparently, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in no hurry to do this and prefers to use the presence of Turkish forces and puppet Syrian opposition groups in northern Aleppo as a trump card in his own regional game."

Also, Sabi stressed that Turkish artillery and opposition militants were fighting against Kurdish forces from the border security zone Ankara created in the north of Raqqa and Hasaka provinces.

"The bombardments harm the civilian population. People are abandoning their homes. The Syrian Foreign Ministry has drawn the world community's attention to these Turkish attacks, which it describes as acts of aggression," he said.

Ahead of the Sochi meeting

The Lebanese analyst forecasts that despite Damascus' diplomatic campaign Erdogan and his government "will be doing their utmost to preserve the current state of affairs in Syria, which guarantees the Turkish military presence in its territory."

At the same time, he believes that "after another local truce has been achieved with Russia's assistance in southern Syria's Daraa province the issue of a settlement in Idlib and the restoration of the Syrian government's control of that province comes to the forefront again."

Sabi believes that this issue will be on the agenda of the forthcoming Russian-Turkish summit that may take place in Sochi on September 29. He does not rule out that "President Erdogan will have to agree to certain concessions within the framework of the Astana process.".

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