Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has once again rejected Turkish military operations in the occupied northern part of the country, saying government forces will directly confront the Ankara government’s incursions and offensives wherever military facilities are present.
“If Turkish forces launch an attack in areas where Syrian military troops are present, the latter will definitely fight back and put up defense,” Assad said in an interview with Russia’s state-owned and Arabic-language RT Arabic television news network, which is scheduled to be broadcast in full on Thursday evening.
He added, “Two and a half years ago, there was a direct confrontation between Syrian and Turkish forces, and Syrian soldiers managed to strike a number of Turkish units that had encroached into our territories.”
“If it is not possible for Syrian army forces to face up to Turkish incursions, popular resistance will swing into action in the first place,” Assad pointed out.
On Saturday, Syria vehemently condemned Turkey's acts of aggression against the Arab country, saying Turkish forces incursions into its territory violate international law.
“The aggressive threats of the Turkish regime pose a blatant violation of the international law and the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria,” the official new agency SANA cited an unnamed source in Syria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates as saying in a statement.
The statement added that Turkey's incursions into the Syrian territory contradict the understandings and agreements reached through the Astana process and constitute a serious threat to peace and security in the region while undermining internationally-sponsored agreements on the lines of the de-escalation zones in Syria.
Last week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Turkey against launching another incursion into northern Syria under the pretext of fighting off anti-Ankara “terrorists.”
“We hope that Ankara will refrain from actions that could lead to a dangerous deterioration of the already difficult situation in Syria,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on June 2.
“Such a move, in the absence of the agreement of the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic, would be a direct violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and would “cause a further escalation of tensions in Syria,” she added.
“We understand Turkey’s concerns about threats to national security emanating from the border regions” with Syria, she said, adding that the concerns, however, could also be alleviated if the Syrian military were to be deployed to the areas, she added.
Her remarks came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the country was to take yet “another step” to “clean up” the northern Syrian cities of Tal Rifat and Manbij.
Turkey has been conducting several incursions against neighboring Syria’s northern parts since 2016 to fight back against Kurdish militants known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Ankara associates the YPG with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group, which has been fighting a hugely-deadly separatist war against Turkey for decades.
‘West campaign against Russia profoundly rooted in history’
Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad censured the recent Western hawkish stance against Russia over its military campaign in neighboring Ukraine.
“Russia is facing a war that I personally believe has nothing to do with the eastward expansion of the [US-led] North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This is a war that existed before communism and World War II, and has been going on for a long time,” the Syrian president said.
He emphasized, “We can look at Russia from two perspectives. If we view Moscow as an ally of Damascus, either its victory in Ukraine campaign or stronger political role at the world stage will be highly beneficial for us.
“Moreover, Russia's power can restore the lost international balance, albeit partially. This is the balance we are looking for as it will primarily affect small countries like Syria in the first place,” Assad said.