Ankara – Turkey, Iran and Russia pledged on Wednesday to accelerate efforts to bring stability to Syria, underlining their joint commitment to the country a day after President Donald Trump raised the prospect of withdrawing U.S. troops.
A statement by the three countries after a summit meeting of their leaders in the Turkish capital Ankara said they were determined to “speed up their efforts to ensure calm on the ground” in Syria.
While their decision to work together has done little to reduce violence, in part because of their own military interventions on opposing sides, it underlined their central role just as questions grow over Washington’s presence in Syria.
A senior U.S. official said Trump wanted U.S. forces out of Syria relatively soon. “We’re not going to immediately withdraw but neither is the president willing to back a long-term commitment,” the official said.
Around 2,000 U.S. troops are deployed in northern Syria on a mission to battle the remnants of an ISIS force that once controlled the area. Trump had said on Tuesday it was time to pull them out.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said developments in Syria, where the Syrian army and its allies have driven back rebels in recent years, showed that the United States had “failed to topple the Syrian government” of President Bashar al-Assad.
“They wanted to fuel insecurity in order to maintain their own interests but they have gained no success,” he told a news conference after talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He added, however, that he believed U.S. forces would stay in Syria.