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Turkey to support Syrian opposition — defense minister

When asked about another Russia-mediated meeting between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers, Hulusi Akar said he hoped the dialogue would continue

ANKARA, January 10. /TASS/. Turkey will continue to support the Syrian opposition and will not do anything that could harm them in the process of the normalization of relations with Damascus, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday.

"We have done nothing and will do nothing against our [Syrian] brothers in Turkey and Syria. That is why they [the Syrian opposition] should count on that and not yield to provocations," he said in an interview with the TRT television channel when asked about the possible impact of talks between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers in Moscow on relations with the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The Free Syrian Army was established in July 2011 in Turkey after officers of the Syrian government army sided with the opposition. FSA forces, composed of various structures, are fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

When asked about another Russia-mediated meeting between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers, Akar said he hopes the dialogue will continue. "This process was launched after an 11-year hiatus on a goodwill basis and is aimed at normalizing bilateral relations and ensuring peace in the region. The meeting in Moscow is important for the beginning of the dialogue. We hope that the talks will result in the establishment of peace, tranquility and stability in the region and our Syrian brothers staying in Turkey as guests [refugees] will be able to return to their homeland safely and freely, as is envisaged by UN resolutions," he said.

Relations between Ankara and Damascus became strained after the outbreak of the conflict in Syria in 2011 and flows of Syrian refugees flooded Turkey. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed.

Consultations between the Syrian, Turkish and Russian defense ministers were held in Moscow on December 28, 2022. These talks may be followed by a meeting between the three countries’ foreign ministers, which is expected to be organized in the second half of January. The three top diplomats will look at possible talks between the Turkish and Syrian Presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar Assad.