On August 19, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the United States of supporting terrorist groups in war-torn Syria, signaling his country readiness to launch an operation against these groups.
“It is the US and coalition forces that primarily feed terrorism in Syria. They did it brutally and they still do it. They did not get tired of it, and they also made the same feeding in Iraq. To whom? Again to terrorist organizations. If there is unrest in Iraq today, unfortunately, America lies behind it,” Erdogan told reporters on board the presidential plane following a one-day working visit to Ukraine.
Erdogan was likely referring to Kurdish forces in northern and northeastern Syria, which are led by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Ankara consider the umbrella group a branch of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
The Turkish president went on to stress that Ankara is not eyeing any part of Syria and respects the integrity of its territory.
“We do not have eyes on the territory of Syria because the people of Syria are our brothers. We have no such problem there. The integrity of their territory is important to us. The regime must be aware of this,” he said.
Erdogan also called for dialogue with Damascus, affirming that Turkey is in contact with Russia on every step it takes in Syria.
“We need to know and accept this for once. Political dialogue or diplomacy between states can never be cut off. There are always these kinds of dialogues, there should be,” the president said. “We need to secure further steps with Syria. Through these steps, I hope we will disrupt many games in the whole region, in this region of the Islamic world with our neighbors.”
Erdogan’s’ remarks came just three days after a series of Turkish airstrikes on northeastern Syria that claimed the lives of four soldiers of the Damascus government. The airstrikes were a response to an attack by the SDF that killed two Turkish soldiers.
Despite recent developments in norther and northeastern Syria, Russia has been reportedly making effort to reconcile Damascus and Ankara. Bothe Erdogan and his Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for rapprochement with the Damascus government earlier this month.
Turkey has been the main military backer of Syrian rebels since the outbreak of the war in the country more than 11 years ago.
Erdogan’s interest in reconciliation with Damascus before the Turkish elections next year is not only fuel by the growing threat of Kurdish forces, but also by the issue of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Many Turkish voters believe that talks with Damascus is the answer to both problems.
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