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Turkey says US, Russia fighting dangerous 'proxy war'

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus says Syria's conflict must come to an end [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 November, 2016

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The Syrian conflict has become a "proxy war" between the US and Russia, which could lead to a direct confrontation, Turkish deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus has told The New Arab.
The Syrian conflict has become a "proxy war" between the United States and Russia, which could lead to a direct confrontation between the two world powers, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus has said.

Kurtulmus told The New Arab during a sit-down interview in London that he was concerned about an outbreak of fighting between the US and Russia in the six year old conflict.

Russia has been the main military supporter of the Syrian regime while Turkey and the US have backed the rebels fighting to oust it.

"In my personal opinion, the Syria conflict must come to an end. Russia and the US are using some groups and organisations there in what seems like a proxy war. This type of conflict cannot go on for long," Kurtulmus said.

"There is the danger that this could develop into a direct conflict between Washington and Moscow."

Asked about Turkey's differences of opinion with Moscow on the conflict, he said that recent rapprochement with Russia has failed to change the position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down.

"We differ on support for the Syrian regime's army and the fate of Assad. The Russians want Assad to remain under any solution, however, we think that the majority of Syrians do not want him to remain in power. We agree with what the majority of Syrians want."

Kurtulmus said it was still too soon to judge US president-elect Donald Trump, adding that he expects his administration will hand over US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara has accused of masterminding this year's attempted military coup.

"The issue of Gulen is most the important issue regarding Turkey, we have demanded that Washington hands him over to Ankara to stand trial. We expect that the new administration will arrest this man and hand him over to Turkish authorities,"

Kurtulmus also spoke about a government plan to give Syrian refugees Turkish citizenship. Turkey hosts over three million Syrian refugees and was one of the few countries to allow Syrians to enter without a visa.

"We are still working on setting up a programme that would grant permanent residency then the nationality to investors who deposit money in Turkish banks or open up businesses that create jobs.

"This is not only for Syrian refugees and includes all foreigners who want to live in Turkey and obtain the nationality."

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