Syrian President Bashar Assad has said in an interview with Rossiya-24 Russian TV channel that he is not ruling out restoring ties with Turkey if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stops "supporting terrorists".
The statement comes after Assad said that Syrians had not committed any hostile acts against Turkish people and that there is no reason for there to be friction between the two neighbouring countries.
Assad also said that he considered Turkey "Syria’s brotherly nation" and did not understand for which goals Turkish citizens "should die" while fighting in Syria.
The interview with the Bashar Assad was aired on Thursday amid escalating tensions in Idlib. Tensions in the Syrian province dramatically worsened after Ankara launched Operation Spring Shield in the region, the offensive, which was targeted at Syrian troops, was initiated by Ankara after some of its forces were caught in the line of fire when the Syrian Army responded to attacks by the Idlib-based terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham*. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, the Turkish troops were not supposed to be present at the locations where they came under fire.
In February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Turkey had not fulfilled several key commitments on Idlib, including failing to distinguish between the armed opposition, which is ready for dialogue with the government within the framework of a political process, and terrorists. In turn, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay claimed that Ankara had fulfilled its obligations in Idlib.
*Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (also known as Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia