Turkish Official Says Condition for Syria Withdrawal Is End of ‘YPG Threat’

The official denied a Turkish withdrawal was discussed during talks with Syrian officials in Moscow

A Turkish official has said the condition for a Turkish withdrawal from Syria is the end of the “YPG threat” in the country, referring to the primary military component of the SDF, the Kurdish-led group that is backed by the US.

The comments came after Syrian and Turkish officials held talks in Moscow on Tuesday as part of a Russian effort to broker a normalization deal between Damascus and Ankara. Syrian officials have said normalizing ties hinges on a Turkish withdrawal.

“Turkey reiterated its previous arguments which were laid out in the past four meetings in Moscow. The condition of the Turkish army’s withdrawal from Syria would be with the end of the YPG threat and that the regime and its allies should contribute to the resolution,” a senior Turkish official told Middle East Eye.

After Tuesday’s talks, the Syrian Defense Ministry said a Turkish withdrawal was discussed during the meeting, but the Turkish official denied the claim. “Turkey has never negotiated an issue regarding the withdrawal of its forces from Syria during the talks in Moscow,” the official said. “We have discussed possible joint means of fighting against the Syrian arm of PKK and its armed wing, YPG.”

While no breakthroughs were made in Moscow, the talks were described as “constructive,” and more engagement is expected in the future. Damascus is also working toward normalizing with Saudi Arabia and rejoining the Arab League. All of the normalization efforts are opposed by the US, which prefers to keep the country isolated under crippling sanctions and wants to continue occupying eastern Syria.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.