Russia, Turkey to coordinate on Syria after US pullout

Russia, Turkey to coordinate on Syria after US pullout
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Moscow: Russia and Turkey on Saturday agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria after the shock announcement of a US military withdrawal, Moscow's top diplomat said.

President Donald Trump's move has already hastened a shift in alliances with Syrian troops deployed Friday in support of Kurdish forces around a strategic northern city. The Kurds, under threat from Ankara, had been supported by US forces.

"Of course we paid special attention to new circumstances which appeared in connection with the announced US military pullout," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The Syrian deployment pleased ally Russia but upset Turkey ahead of Saturday's talks in Moscow.

"An understanding was reached of how military representatives of Russia and Turkey will continue to coordinate their steps on the ground under new conditions with a view to finally rooting out terrorist threats in Syria," Lavrov said.

Cavusoglu confirmed the two countries would coordinate Syria operations, adding they also discussed plans to help refugees to return home.

"We will continue active work (and) coordination with our Russian colleagues and colleagues from Iran to speed up the arrival of a political settlement in the Syrian Republic," he said in remarks translated into Russian.

"We have the common desire to cleanse Syrian territory of any terrorist organisation, Cavusoglu added.

Lavrov said he was "optimistic" following the talks which included Russian and Turkish defence ministers Sergei Shoigu and Hulusi Akar.

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