Erdogan: Opposition must be part of Syrian solution

By Ilkay Guder

ANKARA (AA) – The moderate Syrian opposition should be part of the political solution in Idlib, Turkey’s president told Russian newspaper, Kommersant, on Sunday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey prioritized civilians, the preservation of deescalation zones and protecting moderate opposition groups since the beginning of the Idlib issue.

"There may be different approaches of different countries about moderate opposition,” according to Erdogan. “But we are thinking that the moderate opposition should remain in the political process.”

The opposition's involvement was needed to carry out the agenda in the Geneva and Astana talks in a healthy way, he said, referring to previous agreements in Syria by the UN, and Turkey, Russia and Iran, respectively.

Turkey opposed any attempt that aims to undermine moderate opposition by presuming them to be "terrorists," Erdogan stated.

The Turkish leader said Turkey has worked for years to maintain peace in Syria and help millions of civilians return to their homes despite propaganda and smear tactics by the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Erdogan hailed an agreement between Ankara and Moscow in Sochi to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib.

He said opposition forces will stay in their areas and radical groups determined by both countries will not be allowed to operate in the region.

– No concession to terror groups

In the article, Erdogan expressed that Turkey would not allow the presence of terror groups on its border with Syria saying, “Turkey has proven its resolution many times before in Afrin, Jarablus, al Bab and Idlib.

“Turkey will never make concessions to terror organizations,” he said, adding that this policy would not change.

Erdogan stated Turkey has always resolutely prioritized the fight against all terror groups, particularly Daesh.

“Sweeping clear areas under the control of the PYD and YPG of terrorists is particularly important,” Erdogan said, and added support by the U.S. for these groups “must desist”, as such steps “harm regional balances and peace among the region's peoples.”

“We expect Russia to support Turkey in its efforts against terror groups, particularly the PKK, PYD and YPG,” he said.

Erdogan went on to say countries sharing the same region must have a common understanding about each other’s security.

– Turkish-Russian ties

Praising relations between Ankara and Moscow, Erdogan said Turkey has been taking steps to improve humanitarian and cultural ties as well as joint energy projects and mutual investments.

“I believe Turkish and Russian people … should be in a deep, sincere and close relationship. I want to emphasize that we will always support efforts to this end," he added.

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