Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statement that Turkey is in Syria to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not coincide with Moscow’s position on settling the situation in Syria, and the Kremlin hopes that Ankara will offer an explanation for this statement, the Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has told journalists.
Yesterday, Erdogan said that Ankara began its military operation in Syria in order to put an end to the rule of Bashar al-Assad.
Peskov told journalists: “Erdogan’s statement is really news. This is a very serious statement, a statement which, overall, is discordant with previous ones, and a statement which is discordant with our own understanding of the situation as a state whose armed forces are the only ones legitimately present on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic on the basis of the legitimate authorities’ corresponding appeal. This is very important to remember.”
The Kremlin’s spokesperson also noted that it is too early to speak of any possible impact of Erdogan’s words on Russian-Turkish relations. “This statement is new. Therefore, we count on an explanation of this position before passing any judgement,” Peskov added.
The spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Maria Zakharova, remarked earlier that Moscow is dealing with the Syrian issue on the basis of existing agreements with Turkey.
“We rely on those statements which were repeatedly made by Ankara and in particular those by the leader of Turkey publicly which lie at the heart of the agreements to which Turkey is a party,” the diplomat emphasised, adding that this not only concerns bilateral documents, but also international agreements which Turkey has signed onto.
Since late August, Turkish troops, assisted by the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’, have been carrying out “Operation Euphrates Shield” in Northern Syria. Officially, the operation’s stated goal is sweeping ISIS terrorists out of the 5,000 square kilometer territory and the establishment of a security zone for, among other things, the accommodation of refugees. Turkey simultaneously opposes the US’ support for Syrian Kurds who are also fighting ISIS in Northern Syria.