Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said although unwillingly, he would consent to a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the future if such a dialogue would serve the “interests of Syria.”
“I always say: my job is not to be happy with what I’m doing or not happy or whatever. It’s not about my feelings, it’s about the interests of Syria, so wherever our interests go, I will go,” Assad said.
The Syrian president made the comments during an interview with Italy's Rai News 24 in Damascus. The content of the interview was later shared by the Syrian official news agency SANA.
Russia 'does not support Turkish incursion'
Assad was also asked what he thought about the Russian-Turkish memorandum on Syria. He said that Russia's agreement with Turkey does not mean that Moscow supports the Turkish military's incursion into northeastern Syria. “Being with Turkey and making this compromise doesn’t mean they [Russia] support the Turkish invasion; rather they wanted to play a role in order to convince the Turks that they have to leave Syria. They are not supporting the Turks, they don’t say 'this is a good reality, we accept it and Syria must accept it.' No, they don’t,” Assad said.
On Oct. 9, Turkey launched a military offensive dubbed "Operation Peace Spring" in northern Syria in an attempt to clear the region of the People's Protection Units (YPG), which are deemed by Ankara as terrorists. On Oct. 22, Russia and Turkey agreed to ensure the YPG withdraw from areas close to Syria’s border with Turkey and to launch joint patrols, in a deal hailed as “historic” by Erdoğan.
Assad said that Russia's position regarding Syria is “very clear,” which is to sustain “Syrian integrity and Syrian sovereignty.” “Syrian integrity and sovereignty are in contradiction with the Turkish invasion, that is very obvious and clear,” he said.
'Turkey should leave Syria in the long-run'
Assad said that although Russia's agreement with Turkey can be considered as a “short-term compromise,” Moscow “did not make a compromise regarding the sovereignty” of Syria. “It could be a compromise regarding the short-term situation, but in the long-term or the mid-term, Turkey should leave. There is no question about it,” he said.