ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey continues to distance itself on Syria from both its regional and NATO allies, stating that its policy in the region is different, a top Turkish official declared on Monday.
“Turkey’s Syria policy isn’t to stand with or against any country,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said while addressing reporters in Qatar, according to Reuters. “There is no change to the policy Turkey has been carrying out.”
Bozdag’s comments were in response to a reporter asking him about remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron, who claimed Turkey supporting US-led airstrikes against Syria demonstrated a shift away from Russia.
Iran and Russia, the regime of Bashar Al-Assad’s key allies, opposed the strikes, which Ankara praised as an appropriate measure against the government in Damascus. Turkey has also been a sponsor of the Astana talks, which were held in January and brought to the discussion table Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus in a bid to de-escalate conflicts in the region.
Turkey, a member of NATO, was informed ahead of Saturday’s airstrikes, led by the US and backed by France and the UK, on Syria in response to a poison gas attack that killed at least 40 people last week. The Turkish official, however, reiterated Ankara’s views at odds with its NATO allies, clarifying Turkey’s position.
“We do not have a united policy with the United States on the [Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)] issue, and Turkey’s stance has not changed. We are also against the unconditional support for the (Syrian) regime, and we are at odds with Iran and Russia on this,” he said.
Bozdag said Turkey did not hesitate to work together with any country who defend “correct principles” on Syria as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government continues to encourage the US to work with Turkey and not “terrorists,” in reference to the American-backed Kurdish YPG forces in northern Syria. The YPG, which Turkey considers an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), has been the US-led coalition’s main ally in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.
Turkey is currently holding territory in the country’s northwest after capturing the Kurdish canton of Afrin with the help of Islamic rebel group the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Ankara has warned it would move eastwards toward Manbij, where coalition forces are stationed with the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to “eliminate threats” to Turkey’s borders.