Turkey intransigent on Syria occupation zone

In his drive for "normalization" of his regime, Syran dictator Bashar Assad has been welcoming meetings with regional leaders in recent months. However, in comments to a reporter last week, he set a withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Syria as a precondition for any meeting with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Erdogan's objective in meeting me is to legitimize the Turkish occupation in Syria," Assad said. Turkey's Defense Minister Yasar Guler responded days later by saying: "It is unthinkable for us to withdraw without ensuring the security of our borders and our people."

Russia brokered talks between Ankara and Damascus in December, aiming to strike a reconciliation between the two neighbors. But the dialogue broke down over Ankara's continued demand for establishment of a 30-kilometer deep "buffer zone" cleared of any Kurdish armed groups. (Al Monitor)

ISIS, meanwhile, shows worrying signs of resurgence in northern Syria. ISIS militants on Aug. 11 reportedly killed 23 Assad regime troops and injured 10 in an attack on a military bus near the town of al-Mayadeen in Deir ez-Zor Province. (EAW)