Iran's chief of staff, Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, arrived in Ankara yesterday for talks with Turkish leadership amid efforts to bring the two countries to a common understanding to cooperate on the Syrian and Iraqi crises.
Bagheri is scheduled to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli during his three-day visit.
He started the visit by meeting Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar yesterday. Sources previously told Daily Sabah that if both sides had not shown signs of willingness to cooperate and strike deals in the region, the visit would not have taken place.
Bagheri's visit comes amid the U.S.'s alleged preparation to launch an offensive on İdlib to dislodge Hayat Tahrir al-Sham from the region. The issue is also expected to be on the table during talks.
Iran's official IRNA news agency meanwhile described the visit as unprecedented in the history of Iranian-Turkish bilateral relations.
"This trip was necessary for better consultation and cooperation on various military and regional issues," Bagheri said in a statement to state Iranian broadcaster IRIB, citing border security and the fight against terrorism.
Even though the countries have been lending support to different sides in the Syrian civil war, with Ankara backing moderate rebel groups such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) while Tehran backs Bashar Assad in his efforts to cling on to power, they initiated the Astana talks along with Russia in late 2016 to end the destructive, six-year civil war.
Both countries also vehemently oppose the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) planned referendum in September on independence for Iraqi Kurdistan.