Protests erupted on Aug. 11 in the Turkish-controlled northwestern Syria after Turkish Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's call for the reconciliation of the Syrian regime and the opposition.
In several images and videos shared on social media, protestors were seen burning Turkish flags, shouting slogans against Turkey in front of Şahinbey Nation's Garden (“Millet Bahçesi”) and throwing stones at the Turkish military vehicles. The protests mostly took place in the cities of Azaz and Jarablus.
During the 13th Ambassadors' Conference in the Turkish capital Ankara on Aug. 11, Çavuşoğlu said that he had met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad last year during non-aligned movement meetings in Belgrad.
Çavuşoğlu said that he had told his Syrian counterpart that establishing peace in Syria could be established by bringing the government and the opposition together.
“I had a short conversation with the Syrian Foreign Minister. I told him that there needs to be a peace between the Syrian opposition and the regime, and that Turkey would support this in such a situation...We have somehow to make the Syrian opposition and the regime reach an agreement in Syria. Otherwise, there will be no lasting peace. We are always saying this,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Çavuşoğlu also refuted allegations of any high-level contact taking place between the governments of Turkey and Syria, saying that “only talks between the intelligence services have resumed.”
Çavuşoğlu made the comments in the face of a Turkish newspaper's recent report that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad might soon hold a telephone conversation.
Meanwhile, on Aug. 12, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a written statement, blaming the Syrian regime for the lack of progress in the peace talks and saying that Çavuşoğlu's comments from a day before were reconfirmation of that view.
The ministry said that Turkey was supporting efforts to find a solution for the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees as described by the U.N. resolutions.
“In line with the expectation of the Syrian people, Turkey will continue to give significant contributions to the efforts to find a permanent solution. Our solidarity with the Syrian people will continue,” the statement said.