A top Turkish official and a key U.S. diplomat in the region on Friday discussed Syria in the capital Ankara, according to diplomatic sources.
Sedat Onal, Turkey’s deputy foreign minister, and James Jeffrey, the U.S. envoy to the anti-Daesh/ISIS coalition, discussed developments in Idlib, Syria, as well as the situation in the area of Turkey's anti-terror Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria east of the Euphrates River, and the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee.
A new cease-fire in Idlib, northwestern Syria is set to start just after midnight on Sunday, Jan. 12, Turkey announced on Friday.
Onal and Jeffrey also discussed the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, which Turkey has been repatriating to their countries of origin, and the delivery of humanitarian aid along the border.
The officials also exchanged views on the military and humanitarian situation in the area, as well as recent developments in Iraq and Libya.
Turkey's anti-terror operation
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
On Oct. 22, Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists would pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border, and security forces from Turkey and Russia would carry out mount joint patrols there.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is its Syrian offshoot.
Syrian Constitutional Committee
The Syrian Constitutional Committee -- made up of opposition, civil society, and regime members -- began its work on Nov. 20 in Geneva with UN facilitation.
The committee is mandated within the context of a UN-facilitated Geneva process to prepare and draft for popular approval of constitutional reforms paving the way for a political settlement in Syria.
On Nov. 25, the Assad regime delegation left the talks on the first day of the second round.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev
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