No change in Turkey’s stance on Syria while Assad in office: PM
Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:49PM
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim ©AFP
The Turkish prime minister has reiterated Ankara’s hostile stance on the government in Damascus, saying there will be no change in his country’s policy towards Syria as long as President Bashar al-Assad is in power.
“Things need to change in Syria, but first of all Assad should change. Unless Assad changes, nothing changes in Turkey," Binali Yildirim said in an interview with the BBC, claiming that the conflict gripping the Arab country would not be settled with Assad in charge.
The comments come amid speculations of a possible change in Turkey’s relations with Syria in the wake of the resumption of Ankara’s ties with Israel and Russia.
The Turkish premier further stressed that neither Assad nor the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group can be preferred over the other, saying, “They both have to go -- they're both trouble for Syrians.”
He further claimed that even if Daesh is destroyed, “the problem still won’t be solved” in the Middle Eastern state.
Earlier this week, Yildirim had hinted that the Turkish government could potentially mend relations with Syria, saying, “We normalized our relations with Israel and Russia. I’m sure we will go back to normal relations with Syria as well.”
Late last month, Turkey reached a deal to resume relations with the Tel Aviv regime after a six-year rupture caused by a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship.
Moscow-Ankara ties, which soured over Turkey’s last November downing of a Russian jet in Syrian airspace, were also softened.
Turkey has been among the main supporters of the militant groups operating in Syria, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri terrorists there and facilitates their safe passage into the violence-wracked Arab country.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in the Middle Eastern state, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.