24 April: The defense ministers of Russia, Turkiye, Syria and Iran met in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Syria and ways to enhance cooperation among the four countries.
The meeting, which was hosted by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, was the first of its kind since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
According to a statement by the Russian defense ministry, the four ministers reaffirmed their “desire to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and the need to intensify efforts for the speedy return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.”
They also expressed their support for the UN-led political process in Geneva and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a nationwide ceasefire, a new constitution and free elections in Syria.
The meeting came amid signs of a thaw in relations between Turkiye and Syria, which have been at odds over Ankara’s support for some rebel groups and its military intervention in northern Syria.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said after the meeting that he had a “constructive and positive” dialogue with his Syrian counterpart Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, who attended the meeting at the invitation of Russia.
Akar said they discussed “the steps that can be taken to establish stability and security in Syria” and agreed to continue consultations on various issues.
He also said that Turkiye respects Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and supports a political solution to the conflict.
Syrian Defense Minister Ayyoub said he appreciated Russia’s role in facilitating the meeting and expressed his readiness to cooperate with Turkiye on resolving the Syrian crisis.
He also said that Syria is determined to liberate its entire territory from “terrorism and occupation” and restore its state authority.
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said the meeting was an opportunity to exchange views on regional and international developments and to coordinate efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.
He also said that Iran supports Syria’s right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and opposes any foreign interference in its internal affairs.
Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said the meeting was a “historic event” that reflected the common interest of the four countries in finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.
He also said that Russia will continue to provide military and humanitarian assistance to Syria and help its reconstruction process.