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    Turkish army tanks make their way towards the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016. Picture taken August 24, 2016.

    'No Difference' Between Terrorists and US, Turkish 'Invasion' in Syria - Assad

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    There is no difference between terrorist action in Syria and the military interventions of the United States and Turkey there, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Sputnik.

    DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — The US-led coalition conducts anti-Daesh air raids and provides military support to the rebels in Syria without either Damascus' or UN's approval, thus violating the international law.

    "When you talk about the Turkish invasion, when you talk about the American troops — again, it's an invasion — and when you talk about the terrorists on the ground, it's one entity, there's no difference. There's one master who's controlling all these factions. So, the priority now is to defeat the terrorists. When you defeat the terrorists, the Turkish army and any other army will be weak on the ground," Assad said.

    Turkey's Euphrates Shield campaign had been ongoing in northern Syria since last summer and recently ended.

    Assad also said that US and Turkish forces should leave Syria "by will or by force" after the defeat of terrorists in the Arab republic.

    "The priority now is to defeat the terrorists. When you defeat the terrorists, the Turkish army and any other army will be weak on the ground," Assad said.

    He argued it would be "very easy" to drive out the Turkish and US forces after expelling their proxies, which he described as the "real strength" and "the strongest element on the ground."

    "In that regard, the Americans, like the Turks, like any other occupiers, they have to get out by their will or by force… In that regard, when you defeat the terrorists in different areas, it's going to be very easy to expel any other one including the Turks; either they leave, or it's your land, you have to defend it," Assad said.

    On August 24, Turkish forces, supported by Free Syrian Army rebels and US-led coalition aircraft, began a military operation dubbed the Euphrates Shield to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area from Daesh terrorist group.

    The campaign was the first Turkey's incursion into Syria, however, earlier Turkish forces attacked Kurdish positions in Syria from its side of the border. The operation has been widely criticized both by the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, who have accused Ankara of violating Syria's territorial integrity. As Jarabulus was retaken, the joint forces of Ankara, the coalition and Syrian rebels continued the offensive southwest.

    In the end of February, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Hulusi Akar said that the city of al-Bab was under control and the goals of the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria had been achieved.

    Related:

    Why Now? Turkey's Decision to Stop Euphrates Shield Op Raises Questions
    What Could Prompt Turkey to Launch Operation Euphrates Shield 2.0
    Euphrates Shield: Turkey's 'Mission Accomplished' Announcement a Sham
    What's Behind Turkey Ending Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria
    Tags:
    invasion, Operation Euphrates Shield, Bashar al-Assad, Turkey, Syria, United States
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