Ankara will not leave Syria to the regime or to Kurdish-led forces, Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said Friday after a suggestion by his colleague that Damascus and the Syrian opposition should reconcile sparked outrage.
Comments Thursday from Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that there would be "no lasting peace" in Syria without reconciliation between the regime and opposition sparked condemnation online and protests in opposition-held areas of Idlib and Aleppo.
Soylu said Turkey, a major backer of some Syrian opposition forces, would not abandon Syria to the regime or to the Kurdish-led forces whose main component Ankara considers to be a terror organisation.
"We have not and will not leave the people who are [reeling] from the oppression of the Syrian regime and the Kurdish units alone," the interior minister said.
More than 500,000 people have been killed in Syria, largely at the hands of the regime and at its ally Russia, since the war began in 2011. At least 11 million more have been displaced from their homes.
It follows growing signs, including a brief meeting between Cavusoglu and his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad in Belgrade, that Turkey and the Syrian regime might restore ties.
Cavusoglu said Thursday that communication had resumed between the two countries' intelligence agencies.
However, he dismissed the possibility of direct talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, despite long-standing calls from Russia for such dialogue.
Turkey has also said it would support any Syrian regime military operations against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria.
Ankara has for months threatened to launch a large-scale operation in Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria, and appears to have stepped up its aerial assaults on the area.
The New Arab