Ruling AKP spox confirms meeting between Assad, Turkish intel chief

Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik on Wednesday confirmed a recent meeting between between the Syrian President and the head of Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation (MİT), left-wing news site Gazete Manifesto said.

"It is normal for elements on the field to conduct meetings with the permission of our president,’’ Çelik said when asked about reports on a meeting between Bashar Assad and Hakan Fidan.

Turkish left-wing nationalist Turkish daily Aydınlık last week said a Syrian delegation met Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan in the Iranian capital city of Tehran.

Mehmet Yuva, a Syrian academic of Turkish origin based at the University of Damascus, quoted the Syrian president as saying he would be willing to take it a step further to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

“If it is in line with Syria’s interests and does not harm our sovereignty, we could meet with Erdoğan” it quoted Assad as saying.

Çelik noted that there were no changes in Turkey stance on the Assad regime, which Ankara is staunchly opposed to.

“Our intelligence elements held meetings in order to prevent human tragedies or as required,’’ Çelik said.

Ankara maintained friendly relations with Damascus before the war, however has become disturbed by the expansion of Kurdish militants, namely the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), across northern Syria, launching three military operations into the neighbouring country in August 2016 and January 2018.