Erdoğan, Putin satisfied with results of Sochi summit

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File Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said that they are generally satisfied with the results of the Syrian National Dialogue Summit in Sochi.

The two leaders talked over the phone yesterday and discussed the outcome of the Syrian National Dialogue Summit in Sochi and developments regarding Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, noting that the outcome of the Sochi summit is an "important achievement" despite its problems.

The summit, backed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, was held in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi on Jan. 29-30, was an attempt to bring all warring parties in the Syrian conflict, excluding terrorist groups, to the table to facilitate the U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.

A proposal to form a constitutional committee was agreed to on Monday and by representatives from the Syrian regime and the guarantor countries of Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Parties at the two-day summit also said in a final statement that they want to bring an end to the ongoing conflict as soon as possible, and urged international help to this end.

Erdoğan and Putin also hailed the decision at Sochi to form a constitutional committee as its "most important outcome," asserting that the progress made at the meeting enhances both the Astana and Geneva peace talks and U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said the Sochi summit will be followed by meetings in Geneva with the participation of all ethnicities and groups not involved in terrorism. "We are acting together with other countries to resolve problems," he said yesterday at a press conference held after the meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has demanded an explanation from Russia over the attendance of one of Turkey's most sought-after terrorists at the summit.

Mihraç Ural, a Turkish national who fought within the ranks of the Syrian regime in Syria and is implicated in several terrorist attacks in the country, was seen in Sochi on Tuesday.

Ural, the leader of a small Shabiha group known as the Syrian Resistance, was one of the most-wanted terrorists in Turkey with Turkish officials offering a TL 1 million ($265,000) reward for him.

Ural was a top militant in the People's Liberation Party-Front (THKP-C), a predecessor to the Revolutionary Peoples' Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and U.S. Ural was also the alleged mastermind of 2013 car bombings in Reyhanlı in the southern province of Hatay that killed 52 people. The attack was widely perceived as a provocation by Syrian intelligence to cause a rift between Arab Sunnis and Alawites in the region, which has a diverse ethnic and religious population.

Ural joined the regime's ranks following the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, and had been fighting ever since. The group was formerly known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Sanjak of Iskandarun, referring to the former name of Hatay province, which became a part of Turkey in a referendum in 1939, when Syria was ruled by the French Mandate. The Baathist regime long referred to the province as a part of Syria in official documents and maps and remained a tense issue between the two countries until the early 2000s, which marked Turkish-Syrian rapprochement.

Ural and his fellow militants, cited as one of the deadliest Shabiha groups in Syria, were also accused of committing massacres of Sunni civilians in the coastal towns of Baniyas and Baida, in which hundreds were killed. When two DHKP-C terrorists killed Prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz in his office at Istanbul's Çağlayan Courthouse on March 31, 2015, Ural glorified the event, saying: "If you contaminate justice, then you'll bear the consequences."

The DHKP-C is an offshoot of a Marxist-Leninist movement that was established in the 1970s. The organization was founded in the 1990s after it splintered from a larger group of far-left organizations responsible for a string of attacks. It kept a relatively low profile for many years, but in 2013, a DHKP-C militant carried out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy compound in Ankara, killing a Turkish security guard.

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