06:44 GMT +324 June 2018
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    Erdogan's Remark About Toppling Assad Prompts Syrian, Russian Reaction

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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the Turkish armed forces' military operation in Syria was designed to put an end to the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The remarks made the headlines and prompted immediate reaction in Syria and in Russia.


    The Syrian Foreign Ministry said that the Turkish president's statements confirm Damascus' assertion of Turkish aggression in Syria.

    "Erdogan's statements about the goals of Turkish aggression in Syria put an end to his lies and clearly revealed that Turkish aggression on Syrian territory is nothing more than a result of ambitions and illusions," the ministry said in a statement obtained by RIA Novosti.

    Russian Foreign Ministry

    Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow was guided by its agreements with Ankara on Syria.

    "We are guided by statements that were repeatedly made by Ankara, in particular, by the Turkish leader publicly, and that underlay the agreements Turkey takes part in. I would like to remind you that these are not only bilateral documents, but also documents of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) Turkey is part of," the spokeswoman said.

    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that Erdogan's statements run counter to earlier reached agreements between Russia and Turkey.

    "This runs counter to all agreements. First, Resolution 2254, Resolution 2268, decisions of the Vienna format, Lausanne format. We have been participating in these formats jointly with Turkey," Bogdanov told reporters.


    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that it was inappropriate to speculate on whether Turkish President Erdogan's statements on Syrian President Bashar Assad could affect the Moscow-Ankara relations.

    "No, principled and hypothetical speculations are inappropriate here," Peskov said when asked if Erdogan's statements could affect bilateral relations.

    "The statement was new. So before making any judgments, we hope this position will be explained," he said, adding that the statement was very serious.

    Peskov said Erdogan’s announcement on Assad, which had not been voiced in phone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ran counter to Russia's understanding of the situation.

    He added that Russia is the only country whose forces are in Syria legally.


    Finally, a source in Erdogan's administration tried to downplay president's statement.

    "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 Daesh terrorists. 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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    Bashar al-Assad, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, Russia
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