Syrian war: Turkey to play more active role

Turkey says it will take a more active role in efforts to end the war in Syria and accepts President Bashar al-Assad as an interim but not long-term player.

But announcing the Turkish policy shift, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim insisted that Mr Assad “can’t have a role in Syria’s future”.

“He is one of the actors today, whether we like it or not,” Mr Yildirim said.

Fighting has continued in the city of Hassakeh, where Syrian government jets have bombed Kurdish areas for two days.

Hassakeh, 80km (50 miles) south of the Turkish border, is mainly controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, but Mr Assad’s government forces are trying to push them out.

Turkey is staunchly opposed to Mr Assad, but is also fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – an ally of the YPG.

Turkey does not want the Kurds to consolidate any territorial gains that could help the PKK.

“In the six months ahead of us, we shall be playing a more active role,” Mr Yildirim said. “It means not allowing Syria to be divided along ethnic lines.”

A future political settlement for Syria must not include Mr Assad, the PKK or “Daesh” – the so-called Islamic State (IS) group – he said.


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