Turkey's Erdogan says will meet Syria's Bashar Al-Assad when 'time is right'

Turkey's Erdogan says will meet Syria's Bashar Al-Assad when 'time is right'
Turkey's president has again signaled that he is willing to meet his Syrian counterpart, amid reports of rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus
2 min read
07 October, 2022
Ties have been cut off between Ankara and Damascus since 2012 [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is not impossible but would happen "at the right time".

"When the time is right, we can … meet with the president of Syria, and there are talks that are already taking place at a low level," Erdogan said in a statement from the Czech capital, Prague, while attending a European summit.

Sources last month said that Turkey's intelligence chief held multiple meetings with his Syrian counterpart in Damascus, a sign of Russian efforts to encourage a thaw between states on opposite sides of Syria's 11-year-old conflict.

Erdogan had previously expressed a desire to meet with Assad if the Syrian regime leader had been able to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Uzbekistan last month, reports said.

Any normalisation between Ankara and Damascus would reshape the decade-long Syrian war.

Turkish backing has been vital to sustaining Syrian rebels in their last major territorial foothold in the northwest, after the Assad regime defeated its opposition across the rest of the country, aided by Russia and Iran.

But rapprochement faces big complications, including the fate of rebel fighters and millions of civilians, many of whom fled to the northwest to escape Assad's rule.

Assad unleashed a violent crackdown on peaceful protests in 2011,