Turkiye defence minister: ‘Turkiye will not withdraw military from Syria until security is established’


Chief of General Staff General Yaşar Güler

 Sept 23, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Guler stressed the need for the Bashar Al-Assad regime to meet several requirements before Turkish forces withdraw from northern Syria.

The requirements include the establishment of a new constitution and the holding of democratic elections, in addition to the formation of a government that represents all Syrian sects.

In an exclusive interview with Turkish newspaper Milliyet, Guler said: “We don’t need anyone’s land… But how can we leave when there are four million Syrians in our country, and five million in Idlib are in danger of turning into refugees at any moment? Can we leave there without a secure environment?”

He stressed that the Turkish military operations in northern Syria aim to protect Turkish citizens.

“Why did we carry out Operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield? Because our citizens could not go to their fields, because terrorists were firing missiles at our citizens daily and harassing them with light weapons,” Guler asserted.

Regarding the demands for withdrawing Turkish forces from northern Syria, Guler said that calling for Turkiye to withdraw is not a simple procedure, noting: “First, an [secure] environment will be created. The constitution, which the Syrian regime has to do at the moment, will be accepted and elections will be held. A government will be established, and it will embrace all the people here. After that, of course, we will be happy to do so.”

“Saying that Turkiye must withdraw cannot be that easy. The appropriate environment must first be prepared, the Syrian regime must accept the constitution and hold elections, and a government must be established that embraces all the people there. If these conditions are met, of course, we will happily leave.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian revealed that his country had proposed an action plan to the Al-Assad regime and Turkiye regarding withdrawing Turkish forces from northern Syria.

Abdollahian explained that Iran presented a proposal during joint meetings that Ankara pledge to remove its forces from Syria in exchange for the Al-Assad regime’s pledge to prevent any attack on Turkish territory.

In an interview with the Iranian newspaper Al-Vefagh, he added: “We also proposed to Damascus and Ankara that Iran and Russia be the guarantors of this agreement.”

The Iranian foreign minister noted that the Al-Assad regime assured Tehran: “It is completely prepared to maintain the security of the border with Turkiye from within its territory.”

Turkiye previously announced, in response to Al-Assad’s statements in which he stipulated the withdrawal of its forces before talking about any steps to normalise relations, that the withdrawal of its forces is a red line due to the current situation, stressing that the regime cannot currently secure the borders.

Middle East Monitor