A Turkish delegation visiting Damascus on an economic and political mission says respecting Syria’s sovereignty is a main precondition to end the conflict in the Arab country.
In a Thursday meeting with Syria’s parliament speaker Hammoudeh Sabbagh, the delegation representing the Eurasia Local Governments Union from Turkey reiterated that Syrians had the right to determine their own destiny and no third party has the right to interfere, pressure or try to influence the will of the Syrian people.
Syria’s official SANA agency cited head of the delegation Hasan Cengiz as saying in the meeting that the war on Syria, which is well in its eighth year now, came as part of a wider project to divide the Middle East region.
Cengiz added that the only way out of the conflict would be for others outside Syria to respect the country’s sovereignty and the right of its people to determine their future.
The remarks are the first of their kind for a senior Turkish politician since the war started in Syria in 2011. Turkey has been one of the main countries supporting the opposition in Syria, especially those openly vying to topple the government through armed confrontation.
Turkey has even boots on the ground in northern Syria where it is fighting Kurdish militants. Ankara considers the militant group known as the YPG an extension of the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey.
Syrian authorities have repeatedly criticized Turkey for launching a military operation in late January to oust the Kurds from the town of Afrin.
Sabbagh, the Syrian parliament speaker, told the visiting Turkish delegation that Turkey has committed an aggression against Syria by maintaining a military presence north of the country, adding that the move represents a flagrant violation of international laws.
Sabbagh said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was directly responsible for the bloodshed in Syria, adding Erdogan has always pursued an aggressive policy toward Damascus government over the past years.
Turkey is increasingly wary of US plans in Syria, including its schemes to carve out a mini-state for Kurds along Turkish borders.
Initially a dyed in the wool ally of US and a facilitator of the campaign against the Syrian government, Ankara has swung toward Iran and Russia in their efforts to end the crisis in Syria.