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Lavrov: Russia, Turkey To Coordinate In Syria After U.S. Withdrawal

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (left) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in August.

Turkey and Russia have agreed to coordinate "on the ground" in Syria following a planned U.S. troop withdrawal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said following a meeting with Turkish officials in Moscow.

"Certainly, we gave special attention to the new circumstances that arose in connection with the troops withdrawal announced by the United States," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on December 29.

Turkey and Russia have the common aim of clearing Syria of all terror organizations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after the talks, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Cavusoglu also said Turkey would continue to be in close cooperation with Iran and Russia on Syria and regional issues, according to Anadolu.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that Washington would withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, upending a pillar of U.S. policy in the Middle East and alarming U.S. allies.

Russia and Iran are key backers of the Syrian government in the country's seven-year war, while Turkey has backed rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The United States has been supporting an alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish forces fighting against Islamic State (IS) militants and Assad's government forces.

Russian state-run TASS news agency reported on December 29 that a summit of countries involved in the Astana round of Syrian peace talks is likely to be held in mid-January in the Kazakh capital to discuss the situation.

Russia, Iran, and Turkey established the so-called Astana process, a series of talks held since 2017 designed to complement a UN-led peace process.

Based on reporting by Interfax, AFP, and Reuters