Iran had suggested a plan for a Turkish military withdrawal from Syria, the country’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said during an interview with Al-Vefagh that was published on September 17.
Speaking to the Iranian Arabic-language newspaper, the minister revealed that Tahran “proposed that Turkey commit, first, to withdrawing its military forces from Syrian territory, and second, that Syria commit to deploying its forces on the border so that Turkish territory is not threatened.”
Iran and Russia will both act as guarantors, according to Amir-Abdollahian, who didn’t provide any further details on the plan.
Ankara is still the main backer of Syrian rebels. The Turkish military controls vast parts of Syria’s northern and eastern region. It also maintains a large presence in the northwestern region of Greater Idlib, which is ruled by an al-Qaeda offshoot.
Iran and Russia have been leading efforts to restore relations between Turkey and Syria. The foreign ministers of the two countries met in Moscow last May. Since then, the normalization process has seen very little progress.
In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that he is open to talks with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, but would not meet him if a withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria were set as a condition. Later in August, al-Assad blamed Turkey for terrorism in his war-torn country and insisted on the withdrawal of the Turkish military from Syria in an interview with Sky News Arabia.
Amir-Abdollahian’s remarks indicate that Iran and Russia are making much efforts to bring Turkey and Syria together away from the media. Still, the serious disagreements between Erdogan and al-Assad means that a normalization agreement may still be far.