Erdogan: 'Turkish Forces Entered Syria to End Reign of Assad'
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the most influential leaders of Turkey, has claimed in different platforms that the sole reason Turkey entered Syria is none other than to end Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Turkey was one of the main supporters of Syria's rebels during the Syrian civil war which took lives of more than a million people. Once again, the Turkish military has launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Bashar al-Assad, whom President Erdogan calls a cruel Tyrant. At the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul, Erdogan said, “In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA], ”.
On the other hand, improving international relations with Russia which was once Assad's main ally, dissatisfaction with U.S policies, frustration with the United Nations and security concerns posed by the Islamic State(IS) and the Kurdish militia fighters have contributed to Turkey's increased actions in Syria.
THE POLITICAL EQUATION
Turkey's "Operation Euphrates Shield" which was launched in August with FSA fighters was aimed at clearing the country's southern border of both Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as well as roll back Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces which Ankara claims to be a terrorist group. A senior official from one of the Turkmen rebel brigades backed by Turkey claims that more than half of the Turkmen fighters had been pulled out from Aleppo to take part in "Operation Euphrates Shield".
According to a review of recent speeches published on the presidency website, President Erdogan mentioned Assad by name in a major public address but made no direct reference to events in Aleppo. Another senior official from the Muntasir Billah Brigade said that Russia and the Syrian regime used everything from barrel bombs to warplanes. He doubted whether the course of battle would have been different if the Turkmen fighters hadn't been pulled out from Aleppo. It has currently been reported from Erdogan's office that the president has spoken with Russian president Vladimar Putin a couple of times the past week regarding humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and stressing over "coordinate efforts against international terrorism".
Turkish-backed forces have had rapid gains in less populated areas but their immediate challenge is securing al-Bab where five Turkish soldiers have been killed in past week alone. However, it is yet to see whether Russia will allow Turkey to seize al-Bab. Muntasir Billah Brigade official calls it a political equation. He further states "It's not about whether Turkey has enough tanks, soldiers and weapons, but whether there's any room for such a move from Turkey in the equation."