Iran, Russia, Turkey agree on reviving Syria peace process

Iran, Russia, Turkey agree on reviving Syria peace process
Trilateral meeting produces a joint declaration in support of a political solution to ending Syria's crisis and ensuring the evacuation of civilians and fighters from Aleppo.
2 min read
20 December, 2016
Tuesday's talks followed the assassination of Russia's Turkey envoy on Monday [AFP]
Russia, Iran and Turkey have agreed to support efforts to produce a peace deal between President Assad and his opposition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, following a meeting with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Moscow on Tuesday.

The agreement comes days after Assad's Russian and Iranian allies helped crush armed opposition in east Aleppo, one of the last bastions of rebel groups, which had been under siege for several months.

Lavrov said that the trilateral coordination would help the process of evacuating thousands of Syrians still waiting to leave east Aleppo's battered and bombed-out neighbourhoods.

"Turkish-Russian-Iranian cooperation ensures the evacuation of civilians and armed groups from eastern Aleppo," said Lavrov. 

He added that he hoped the evacuation process would "end" in a day or two. 

Analysis: After the assassination - what next for Russia and Turkey?

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, a total of 37,500 have already been evacuated from Aleppo. An estimate from the International Committee of the Red Cross earlier on Tuesday put the figure at 25,000.

Cavesoglu also emphasised Turkey's support for the Russia-Turkey-Iran format for resolving Syria's crisis, adding that Ankara would continue its efforts in the war-torn country.

"The best solution is political solution. We believe in this. We have to focus on this," he said. 

Tuesday's joint declaration marked a positive step for cooperation between Ankara and Moscow, following the assassination of Russian envoy Andrei Karlov in the Turkish capital on Monday. The killing comes months after Russia and Turkey began strengthening ties that had seized up over the downing of a Russian jet in Syria.

"We know that this is a provocation aimed at destroying the process of normalisation in relations between Turkey and Russia," Russian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in televised comments on Monday.

Russia and Iran sit on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict from Turkey, with Moscow and Tehran backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Ankara supporting those seeking to topple him.

Despite this, cooperation between Moscow and Ankara has increased in recent months, with Turkey having recently denied that it forged a secret "bargain" with Russia over the future of Syria.

This followed improved cooperation that led to a deal for evacuations from war-wrecked Aleppo.