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Ankara is More Interested in Counteracting Terrorism Rather Than Assad’s Departure | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ankara reiterated the order of its priorities in Syria, and the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that overthrowing the head of the Syrian regime Bashar Al-Assad is not a priority for it. He added that operation Euphrates Shield in which Turkey supports Free Syrian Army fighters in northern Syria targets “terrorist organisations” and has nothing to do with what is happening in Aleppo. He added that the “nature of the crisis in Syria imposes priorities, the most important of which is to rescue the Syrian people. However, the overthrow of Assad is not a priority”.

The Turkish Prime Minister, who made an official visit to the Russian capital Moscow, made these comments in an interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik on Wednesday. He said that there are three major issues in the Syrian crisis that require a quick solution, and that it was necessary to end the continuing bloodshed in Aleppo, put an end to terrorist activities in Syrian areas bordering south Turkey and deter the Syrian Democratic Union Party and its military arm the People’s Protection Units. Turkey considers both of these parties as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which it has classified as a terrorist organisation. Turkey also said that both of these parties are carrying out operations against Turkey from Syrian territory.

As for the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, an issue that has sparked controversy between Moscow and Ankara in recent times, Yildirim said “We have to arrange our priorities in this regard. Is Assad’s fate important? Or is the fate of the Syrian state important? Without a doubt, the fate of the Syrian people is more important than the fate of Assad.”

On his part, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last week that operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria aimed to overthrow the Assad regime. However, he later reduced the aims of the operation to getting rid of “terrorist organisations” on the Turkish border after Moscow demanded clarifications of the statement which it considered contrary to previous statements.