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    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, October 3, 2016. Picture taken October 3, 2016.

    Turkish Presidential Administration Downplays Erdogan's Statement on Assad

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    A source in Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's administration on Wednesday tried to downplay Erdogan's statement on his intention to depose Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

    ANKARA (Sputnik) — Erdogan said Tuesday the Turkish armed forces' military operation in Syria is designed to put an end to the rule of Bashar Assad. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday said while commenting on Erdogan's statement that the Turkish leader's words were news for the Kremlin, calling the statement "serious."

    "The presidential statement was announced yesterday, but it should not be perceived literally. I hope that the misunderstanding [with Russia] in this connection will be promptly overcome," the source said, adding that only Turkey's top leadership could provide official comments on Erdogan's announcement.

    On August 24, Turkish forces, backed by US-led coalition aircraft, began a military operation dubbed the Euphrates Shield to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area of the Daesh terrorist organization. As Jarabulus was recaptured, the joint forces of Ankara, the coalition and Syrian opposition groups continued the offensive southwest.

    The operation has been widely criticized both by the Syrian Kurds and Damascus, who have accused Ankara of violating Syria's territorial integrity.

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