Erdogan Says Arming Syrian Opposition Not Enough, Assad Must Be Toppled
20:24 19.11.2014(updated 20:52 19.11.2014)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara and Washington must unite efforts not only in support of moderate Syrian opposition, but also in toppling Assad regime.
ANKARA, November 19 (Sputnik) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists Wednesday that Ankara and Washington were yet to agree on the training and equipping of the opposition's Free Syrian Army (FSA), but said that allies should take steps toward the larger goal of ousting Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
'We would lie to ourselves if we only talk about training and arming [FSA troops]. We should regard Iraq and Syria differently. In Syria, the effort should be focused on toppling the Assad regime,' Erdogan said at a press conference before his trip to Algeria.
The Turkish president added that the talks on arming the 'moderate' Syrian opposition were not over since the US-led coalition, which has been attacking Islamic State (IS) militant forces in the Middle East, had not yet taken measures proposed by Ankara. This includes a no-fly area over Syria and a buffer zone on its northern border with Turkey.
'[The US-led coalition] has not yet taken the steps that we have suggested for Syria,' Erdogan told reporters.
The IS, a Sunni extremist group also known as ISIS, has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories that had fallen under its control.
The United States and Turkey earlier backed Syrian rebels from the 'moderate' camp, while declaring war on the IS insurgency. Although the Turkish parliament approved the use of military force against IS, the country has not been involved in the standoff pending the creation of security zones inside Syria.
Washington has also been urging Ankara to let it use Incirlik air base in southern Turkey for launching air raids against IS position in Syria and Iraq. The facility is already used by the US Air Force for logistical and humanitarian purposes.
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