Turkey: We Differ From Iran, Russia, U.S. on Syria and Middle East

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Turkish soldiers atop an armored personnel carrier in Afrin, Syria, March 24, 2018.
Turkish soldiers atop an armored personnel carrier in Afrin, Syria, March 24, 2018.Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Turkey does not stand with or against Syria, and its policy on the region differs from that of Iran, Russia and the United States, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Monday.

Bozdag’s comments were in response to a reporter’s question about an earlier remark from French President Emmanuel Macron, who said Turkey’s support of missile strikes against Syria showed it had “separated” from Russia.

The United States, Britain and France fired more than 100 missiles at Syria on Friday in a “one-time shot” that the Pentagon said followed evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack using chlorine gas.

“Turkey’s Syria policy isn’t to stand with or against any country. There is no change to the policy Turkey has been carrying out,” Bozdag told reporters in Qatar.

“We do not have a united policy with the United States on the YPG issue, and Turkey’s stance has not changed. We are also against the unconditional support for the (Syrian) regime and we are at odds with Iran and Russia on this,” he said.

While Turkey is working with both Russia and Iran to decrease the use of violence in Syria, Ankara has long demanded that President Bashar Assad must go and has backed rebels against him. Assad’s main supporters are Moscow and Tehran.

Turkey has also been at loggerheads with Washington over U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish militants waging a decades-long insurgency in Turkish soil.

Turkey supported the airstrikes by U.S., British and French forces, saying the move sent a message to Assad.

Bozdag said Turkey did not hesitate to work with any country that defended “correct principles” on Syria.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag speaks to the media in Ankara, February 20, 2018. Credit: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

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