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As Assad 'welcomes' mending ties with Turkey, can Russia or Iraq mediate?

The stalled Ankara-Damascus dialogue is likely to see some fast developments, one expert says, though he warns not to expect too much thanks to complications including the upcoming US elections.
A large sign put up by private citizens bearing the portrait of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, with text in Arabic below reading "total allegiance", is displayed along Abo Romaneh street in the capital Damascus on May 10, 2021 ahead of the country's presidential elections. - A Syrian former minister and a member of the Damascus-tolerated opposition will face Assad in the May 26 presidential election, according to the constitutional court in Syria. The election will be the second since the start of a dec

ANKARA — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has expressed openness to efforts to mend ties between Syria and Turkey amid regional reconciliation efforts.

Assad “affirms Syria's openness to all initiatives” on mending Ankara-Damascus ties “based on Syria’s sovereignty, territorial integrity in its entirety, the fight against terrorism and terrorist organizations,” read a post shared on the Syrian presidency’s website on Tuesday.

Assad delivered the message to Russia's Syria envoy, Alexander Lavrentyev, during a meeting in Damascus on Wednesday, the Syrian state-news agency reported. He also said that “Syria has welcomed” all reconciliation initiatives with Turkey but added that ”success of any initiative must be based on the respect” of the country's sovereignty and stability.

Turkey has been backing armed Syrian opposition groups fighting to overthrow Assad’s government since the start of the Syrian civil war, but Erdogan formally renounced his country’s goal of ousting Assad in 2022. Russian-mediated direct talks between high-level Turkish and Syrian officials that started the same year broke up without success as Damascus conditioned any progress in the talks on the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syrian territory. Turkey controls a large chunk of territory in northern Syria as a result of five ground incursions into the war-torn country from 2016 to 2020.

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