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A successful entente would alter the security landscape of northeastern Syria.

Despite the efforts of the U.S., Europe and regional actors to isolate the Syrian government, Turkey in recent weeks has conducted several high-level intelligence, defense and diplomatic meetings with Syrian officials. A meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar Assad looks increasingly possible. The two sides are likely too far apart for complete normalization, but circumstances will continue to compel Turkey to pursue influence within Damascus and forge a Turkish-Russian-Syrian entente that would alter the security landscape of northeastern Syria.

From the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Turkey has staunchly opposed the Assad regime. In 2011, it severed diplomatic relations with Damascus and threw considerable support behind the Syrian opposition and armed rebels in the country’s north. Turkey has refrained from engagement with the Syrian regime, focusing instead on constraining Kurdish armed groups – such as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – that Turkey says sponsor Kurdish separatism and violence across Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Second, Ankara has worked to establish a peace corridor – a buffer zone to repatriate Syrian refugees and prevent violent spillover into Turkey – along the border.

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