Syria considers the presence of Turkish troops on its territory to be an illegal occupation.
Syria insists that Turkey must withdraw its military contingent, as normalisation of relations between the two countries is otherwise impossible, stated Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Bassam al-Sabbagh in an interview with RIA News, cited by Sarbaz.kz
Al-Sabbagh mentioned that there are several United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for the respect of Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Similar statements have also been made within the framework of the Astana format, of which Turkey is a part.
"Turkey must withdraw its troops. We are, of course, ready to discuss any other aspects with them, but they should not insist on (keeping) them. This is an illegal occupation, and it will block any attempts to establish any kind of contact and relations with Turkey," al-Sabbagh said on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Turkey's Minister of National Security, Yashar Güler, stated at the end of September that Turkey would withdraw its troops from Syria only after the creation of a secure environment.
In 2011, a civil war began in Syria. Turkey, which had previously maintained close relations with Damascus, sided with President Bashar al-Assad's opponents. Since then, Turkey's relations with Syria have remained complicated. However, in recent times, both sides, as well as the media covering their relationship, have been discussing the possibility of gradual normalization. In December of last year, the defense ministers of Turkey and Syria held their first talks in 11 years. Assad stated that the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syrian territory is a necessary condition for normalizing relations between Damascus and Ankara.
In northwest Syria, a de-escalation zone was established in 2017. Since March 6, 2020, a ceasefire has been in effect there, following agreements reached between Russia and Turkey, but terrorists regularly violate the ceasefire. Turkey has conducted three military operations in northern Syria since 2017. A buffer zone of security has been created between the cities of Azaz and Jarabulus north of Aleppo, Afrin has been occupied, and border areas east of the Euphrates River have been brought under control.