14:02 GMT +314 December 2019
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    Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara (File)

    Turkey to Expand Military Role in Syria, Says Assad May Be Part of Transition

    © AFP 2019 / ADEM ALTAN
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    Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced on Saturday that Turkey is going to take more active role on Syria in next six months. He also announced Turkey’s position that President Bashar Al-Assad can be part of transition in Syria.

    Apparently, the Kurds did manage to bring Syria and Turkey closer together. While Turkey's position on Syria for years has been based on the aim of immediate removal of Assad from office, the recent developments which include the failed coup attempt and strengthening of Syrian Kurds, may have led Ankara alter its calculation.

    According to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Turkey thinks Bashar Assad can be a "part of the transition", but has no place in Syrian future in the long term.

    "Could Syria carry Assad in the long-term? Certainly not," Yildirim said. "The United States knows and Russia knows that Assad does not appear to be someone who can bring (the people) together."

    But Assad should not go away, according to the new Turkish policy, anytime before both Daesh terrorists and Kurdish rebels are defeated.

    "There may be talks (with Assad) for the transition. A transition may be facilitated. But we believe that there should be no (Kurdish rebels), Daesh or Assad in Syria's future," Yildirim said.

    The Kurdish forces, backed by the US, seek to establish their own autonomy which will secede from Turkey, Syria and Iran. Until recently, Damascus refrained from attacking their own Kurds, as they successfully defeated the Daesh terrorist group which at some point captured the majority of Syrian territory.

    But Kurdish advances also created a potential threat of separatism in Syria, which is likely to spread into Turkish territory.

    "Turkey we will be more active in the Syria issue in the coming six months as a regional player. This means to not allow Syria to be divided on any ethnic base, for Turkey this is crucial," Yildirim said.

    Fighting erupted between the Kurdish Asayesh forces and the Syrian military this week over control of the northern city of Hasakeh, with Syrian warplanes raiding Kurdish positions inside the city, for the first time in the five-year-long Syrian war. The US-led coalition has launched jet fighters twice to scramble Syrian warplanes in order to protect coalition troops. The Kurds have no official protection guarantees from the US. But the coalition forces are known to use three airstrips in the Kurdish region of Syria.

    Earlier this week, Yildirim unveiled a roadmap to resolve the Syrian crisis that comprised three key components, which include integrity of Syrian borders, changes to Syrian political structure (which means removal of Assad from office) and the return of 3 some millions of Syrian immigrants from Turkey.

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    Tags:
    policy change, separatism, Kurds, military presence, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), US-led coalition, Daesh, Bashar al-Assad, Binali Yildirim, Turkey, Syria
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