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Erdogan insists he's not trying to overthrow Assad

Turkey does not seek the removal of Syria’s Bashar Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday in remarks that confirm reports of Ankara’s plans for normalization of ties with Damascus.

The Turkish leader made the remarks to journalists on his flight back from Ukraine, T24 news site reported.

“We don’t have such an issue as whether to defeat Assad or not,” Erdoğan said. “All the steps we have taken with Russians in northern Syria and the east and west of the Euphrates, there is a fight against terrorism.” 

Top officials from Erdoğan’s ruling and far-right coalition partner parties have over the past week issued statements signalling the start of talks between the two countries, following more than a decade of tensions. 

Turkey will need to take “higher steps” with Damascus to end the “games” being played in the region, the Turkish president said, adding that Ankara cannot totally cut off diplomatic relations with the Assad regime, T24 reported.

Political dialogue and diplomacy between states cannot be cut, the Turkish president said, adding, “There should always be such dialogues. “ 

Once an ally of Damascus, Turkey has been involved in Syria’s civil war for 11 years on the side of the opposition. The country has since 2016 launched four cross-border operations into northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces linked to an insurgency on its own soil and to prevent the formation of what it calls a terror corridor and controls swaths of territory in northern Syria with allied Syrian rebels.

Erdoğan said he also wanted to work with Iran, one of the key supporters of the regime of Assad, but said the country “has other plans” as Ankara sees it.

The Turkish president since may has been signalling a new operation into Syria along its southern borders to combat “terrorism threats,” but has stopped short of providing a date.

Erdoğan on Friday once again reiterated Ankara’s readiness to launch the offensive, saying he discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, another staunch supporter of Damascus.

The Turkish president said he told his Russian counterpart that Syrian Kurdish armed factions have been funded by Damascus through oil sales carried out between Kurdish-controlled Qamishli and the Assad regime.

“The source of the money is the regime. We don’t want to postpone this issue anymore. We don’t eye the Syrian territories. Syrian people are our brothers,’’ Erdoğan said.

The Turkish leader also touched on Turkey’s Syrian migrant population, saying that his country was not hosting four million refugees “to be perpetually at war wit

Turkey does not seek the removal of Syria’s Bashar Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday in remarks that confirm reports of Ankara’s plans for normalization of ties with Damascus.

The Turkish leader made the remarks to journalists on his flight back from Ukraine, T24 news site reported.

“We don’t have such an issue as whether to defeat Assad or not,” Erdoğan said. “All the steps we have taken with Russians in northern Syria and the east and west of the Euphrates, there is a fight against terrorism.” 

Top officials from Erdoğan’s ruling and far-right coalition partner parties have over the past week issued statements signalling the start of talks between the two countries, following more than a decade of tensions. 

Turkey will need to take “higher steps” with Damascus to end the “games” being played in the region, the Turkish president said, adding that Ankara cannot totally cut off diplomatic relations with the Assad regime, T24 reported.

Political dialogue and diplomacy between states cannot be cut, the Turkish president said, adding, “There should always be such dialogues. “ 

Once an ally of Damascus, Turkey has been involved in Syria’s civil war for 11 years on the side of the opposition. The country has since 2016 launched four cross-border operations into northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces linked to an insurgency on its own soil and to prevent the formation of what it calls a terror corridor and controls swaths of territory in northern Syria with allied Syrian rebels.

Erdoğan said he also wanted to work with Iran, one of the key supporters of the regime of Assad, but said the country “has other plans” as Ankara sees it.

The Turkish president since may has been signalling a new operation into Syria along its southern borders to combat “terrorism threats,” but has stopped short of providing a date.

Erdoğan on Friday once again reiterated Ankara’s readiness to launch the offensive, saying he discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, another staunch supporter of Damascus.

The Turkish president said he told his Russian counterpart that Syrian Kurdish armed factions have been funded by Damascus through oil sales carried out between Kurdish-controlled Qamishli and the Assad regime.

“The source of the money is the regime. We don’t want to postpone this issue anymore. We don’t eye the Syrian territories. Syrian people are our brothers,’’ Erdoğan said.

The Turkish leader also touched on Turkey’s Syrian migrant population, saying that his country was not hosting four million refugees “to be perpetually at war with the regime.”

“We host them because of our ties with the Syrian people, especially religion. We hope the process from now on would be beneficial for everyone,” he said.

Turkey is home to the largest Syrian refugee population in the world. The demographic has become a political tool amid Turkey’s economic crisis as it counts down to the  presidential and parliamentary elections set to take place next year. Political parties have been engaged of a verbal tug-of-war over their repatriation to the neighbouring war-torn country.

Source: Ahval

 
Written by The Levant