Turkish, Syrian intelligence chiefs meet in first official contact in years

The head of Turkish intelligence met his Syrian government counterpart in Moscow on Monday, in the first official contact in years, Reuters reported, citing a Turkish official.

Turkey has supported rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad since shortly after the 2011 outbreak of the civil war, but has also worked closely on Syria with Russia and Iran, the two biggest backers of the Syrian government.

Both Syria and Turkey have admitted to intelligence contacts in the past, Reuters said, but it was the first time the two countries had acknowledged such a senior meeting.

It said the two intelligence chiefs discussed the ceasefire in Idlib, the last rebel-held province in Syria, and possible coordination against the Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Syria’s intelligence chief called on Turkey to fully respect Syria's territorial integrity and withdrawal from its territory, Syrian news agency SANA said.