Turkish invasion must stop, all foreign troops must leave Syria: Assad
Iran Press TV
Fri Oct 18, 2019 05:02PM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has demanded a complete halt to Turkey's operation against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria, and a full withdrawal of foreign forces illegally present in Syrian territories.
During a meeting with a Russian delegation headed by the Kremlin's special envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, in Damascus on Friday, Assad said efforts must be directed at ending Operation Peace Spring and the pullout of all illegal forces, including the Turkish and American soldiers, from Syrian territories since they are considered occupying forces under international conventions.
The Syrian people are entitled to resistance by all available means, Assad said.
On Thursday, the Syrian leader said Damascus would give an appropriate response to the ground offensive by Turkish soldiers and allied Takfiri militants against Kurdish fighters in the region.
"No matter what false slogans could be made up for the Turkish offensive, it is a flagrant invasion and aggression. Syria has frequently hit (Turkish-backed) proxies and terrorists in more than one place. Syria will respond to the assault and confront it anywhere within the Syrian territory through all legitimate means available," Assad told the visiting Iraqi National Security Adviser Falih al-Fayyadh in Damascus.
An unnamed source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry on the same day condemned the "treacherous Turkish aggression."
On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984. The YPG constitutes the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria says the Turkish offensive has killed 218 civilians, including 18 children, since its outset. The fighting has also wounded more than 650 people.
Turkish authorities say 20 people have been killed in Turkey by bombardment from Syria, including eight people who were killed in a mortar attack on the town of Nusaybin by YPG militants on October 11.
Lavrentiev, for his part, stressed Moscow's firm support for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Kremlin's special envoy to Syria further noted that Russia rejects any step or action that violates Syria's sovereignty, further complicates crisis there and negatively affects attempts aimed at settlement of the conflict.
The two senior officials also exchanged viewpoints on preparations for the start of the work of Syria's long-awaited constitutional committee.
They underlined that the most significant factor for the success of the constitutional committee is that its work must be far from foreign interference, and that all parties must respect the composition of the committee, which was formed through inter-Syrian talks.
On September 23, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said an agreement had been reached between the government of Syria and the so-called the Syrian Negotiation Commission – an umbrella opposition group supported by Saudi Arabia, on "a credible, balanced and inclusive constitutional committee."
"It will be facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva," Guterres told reporters, adding that it would be convened in the coming weeks.
Damascus maintains that the constitutional committee should be a purely Syrian affair to be decided by the Syrian people alone without any foreign interference.
In February, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, said that he saw a constitutional committee as "the potential door-opener for the political process."
Lavrentiev also briefed Assad on the outcome of the recent visits by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
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