The foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Iran reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria in a joint statement on Oct. 29.
They issued the statement as guarantor states of the Astana process on the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis ahead of the first meeting of the Constitutional Committee of Syria, which consists of government, opposition and civil society members.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen had earlier met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif ahead of the committee’s inaugural meeting on Oct. 30.
They expressed their conviction that the launch of the Constitutional Committee proved “there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict.”
They said they were committed to advancing a viable and lasting Syrian-led and Syrian-owned and UN-facilitated political process in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254, which was backed by all members of the Security Council.
Çavuşoğlu: Russia informed us the YPG left
“Russia informed us that the YPG elements left. We have to believe our Russian partners, but we cannot trust terrorists,” Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said at the press conference in Geneva with his Russian and Iranian counterparts.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria east of the Euphrates River to clear the Turkish-Syrian border from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) which constitute the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Ankara and Moscow reached a deal on Oct. 22 under which the YPG would pull back 30 kilometers south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia would start conducting joint patrols there.
Speaking in Geneva Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov referred to the establishment of a constitutional committee for Syria “as a huge joint victory”. While saying this confirms a commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria, Lavrov stressed that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.
Trump’s decision to maintain military presence in Syria condemned by Moscow and Tehran
In the same press conference Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressed U.S President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain a military presence near oil fields in northeastern Syria. “Well it seems that the United States is staying to protect the oil. And at least President Trump is honest to say what the United States intends to do,” Zarif said to laughter.
“Iran and Russia are there on the invitation of the Syrian government, and we intend to stay there as long as the Syrian government and Syrian people want us to be there,” Zarif added.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov joined Zarif in condemnation of Trump’s decision and said any exploitation of resources in Syria would be illegal.
“Our U.S. colleagues are aware of our position and we will defend that position,” Lavrov told.
Fahrettin Altun, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director, said in a tweet later on Tuesday: “Syria’s natural resources belong to Syrians.
“Oil or other types of revenue should be used for reconstruction efforts including local infrastructure, support for civilians, IDPs (internally displaced persons), and refugees. Just as Syrians should be able to determine their own political future, they should also be allowed to decide how the resources of their own land should be spent,” Altun said.
While President Trump has announced his intentions to bring Exxon Mobil Corp or another U.S. oil company to operate Syrian oil fields, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Oct. 25 said that the United States will strengthen its military presence in Syria with “mechanized forces” to prevent ISIS fighters seizing oil fields and revenue.