16:43 GMT31 July 2021
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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought the creation of a safe zone in Syrian airspace as a pretext to give Turkish forces a foothold in the war-torn country, recreating the regional influence of the Ottoman Empire, Director of the Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria Ribal Assad told Sputnik on Friday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein – On October 5, Erdogan proposed the establishment of a no-fly zone and a safe zone in Syria, and increases to training and the provision of equipment for the Free Syrian Army as a stopgap measure to the high number of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe.

    "Before the Russians moved into Syria, Erdogan wanted to use the refugee crisis as an excuse to move Turkish troops into Syria and create a no-fly Zone and a safe zone, and in the process attacking the Kurds who have been gaining ground and have been a formidable force against his Islamic extremist proxies," Ribal Assad said.

    He claims Erdogan sought to let the Turkish-supported Islamist "gain as much territory as possible in Syria and Iraq." The international community would allow Turkish forces to "move in and impose order" under the pretext of the Islamist takeover.

    ‪"Then it would have been impossible to take him out [because] it would have been his forces that would have been the peacekeepers," he said, adding Turkey would then stay in Syria under that guise.

    Syria, formerly a part of the Ottoman Empire, is a "natural place" for Turkey to attempt to spread its influence south into the Arab world. The consolidation, under Erdogan of a Sunni Muslim new Ottoman Empire would effectively block any further spread of Iranian Shia influence, he explained.

    "He wants to recreate the Ottoman Empire," Ribal Assad said of President Erdogan. "He sees himself today as the leader of the Muslim Sunni world, against the Iranian led Shia-axis."

    Ribal Assad suggested that Russia ruined Erdogan’s plan after Moscow deployed S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems in Syria, and built military facilities in the war-torn country.

    Russia moved S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems to Syria to protect its air assets following the downing of a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft by a Turkish F-16 fighter over Syriat its air assets following the downing of a Russian Su-24 attack aircraft by a Turkish F-16 fighter over Syria.


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    Syria, Turkey, Ottoman Empire, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ribal Assad, Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria, The Syrian war, NATO
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