Syrian President Assad rejects Erdoğan’s conditions to meet

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stated that he will not engage in a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan based on the conditions set forth by the latter. The conditions include Turkish soldiers not leaving the Syrian territories.

Bashar al-Assad (L) and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R).

Duvar English

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stated that a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cannot happen “under the latter’s conditions,” in an excerpt of an interview to be aired on Sky News Arabia.

President Erdoğan said on July 17 that he was open to a meeting with al-Assad, but that setting the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syrian territory as a precondition for talks was “unacceptable.”

Erdoğan first said earlier this year that he may meet the Syrian President as part of a new peace process, but al-Assad said in March that there was no point in a meeting with Erdoğan until Turkey’s “illegal occupation” ended.

“We are fighting against terrorism there. How can we withdraw when our country is under continuous threat from terrorists along our border? We expect a fair approach,” Erdoğan said later.

The defense ministers of the two countries met late last year for the highest-level talks between the two neighbors, whose governments have been at odds since 2011, when the Arab Spring uprisings reached Syria and plunged the country into war.

Turkey has been the biggest military and political ally of the Syrian opposition, which controls the last rebel bastion in northwest Syria. Ankara has set up dozens of bases and deployed thousands of troops in northern Syria, preventing the Russian-backed Syrian army from re-taking the region.

The Syrian government has recently granted an extension of three months for United Nations aid deliveries to opposition-held regions through two Turkish border crossings. This move comes as the government strives to secure greater oversight over the crucial United Nations assistance.