ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Seven years since the beginning of the internationalized civil war in Syria, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday said his country did not pose a threat to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, an administration Ankara tried to topple for years.
“We are not a threat to the regime,” Cavusoglu told the privately-owned TGRT news channel, backtracking from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fiercely anti-Assad policy that entailed hopes of installing of a Sunni Muslim government in Damascus.
The Turkish FM suggested a “political process” between the two hostile countries to end the war fought by the Syrian army and Ankara-armed opposition groups.
“But, the regime has to stop violations in Ghouta and Idlib,” Cavusoglu said, making an end to bombings of civilians in opposition-held areas a condition before his Wednesday trip to Iran, a primary sponsor of the Syrian government.
Half-conciliatory remarks from Ankara toward Damascus came as severe Turkish attacks on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan continued for the third week, killing over 150 civilians and wounding twice as many in airstrikes and ground shelling.
The Syrian and Turkish governments share similar views on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that along with the US-led coalition fought against the Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria, Cavusoglu said, presenting a common ground between the two hostile regimes.
“Everybody knows we support Syria’s territorial integrity more than everybody else. The [Damascus] government and the [armed] opposition too are aware of this that YPG is a terrorist divisive organization,” he explained.
“This is what the countries supporting the regime tell us,” Cavusoglu added. “We do not have to be on opposite sides on some issues because we do not maintain ties.”
Meanwhile, Erdogan’s Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin denied the reestablishment of any ties with the Assad government.
The Turkish President had earlier said he could not rule out a future rapprochement with his Syrian counterpart who he had called “a terrorist and murder.”
Back in 2012 when the war in Syria was gaining pace, a then Prime Minister Erdogan promised his supporters that they would soon perform Islamic Friday prayers together at the historic Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany