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Erdogan says Turkish troops will not stay in Syria 'forever'

Turkish President Erdogan said he hoped the blockade on ally Qatar would be resolved soon[Getty]

Date of publication: 8 October, 2020

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish troops will leave Syria when the crisis in the war-torn country is resolved.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country doesn't intend to remain in northern Syria "forever", Arabi21 reported, and will only withdraw from the country once a sustainable solution to the war is found.

The comments were made by President Erdogan to Qatari newspaper The Peninsula in an interview published on Thursday, Arabi21 reported. 

Erdogan told the newspaper that Turkey was the country, outside Syria, most affected by the war, and that it was forced to intervene.

"Turkey will not remain in Syria - we do not have greed for the land of any other country - and when the crisis is permanently resolved, our presence there will end," Erdogan said.

Earlier this week, Erdogan threatened a new military operation in Syria to confront "terrorist armed groups" if no action is taken to curb their influence.

Turkey and allied Syrian groups under its control have controlled several pockets of territory on the Syrian side of the border since 2016.

In October last year, Turkey, assisted by Syrian fighters, launched "Operation Peace Spring" against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria last year.

The operation resulted in Turkey occupying a 32 kilometre wide strip of territory along the Syrian-Turkish border after Kurdish militias were forced to withdraw and thousands of civilians fled.

Turkey and the Gulf

President Erdogan also commented on his relationship with Qatar in the Thursday interview, explaining that the two countries share a strategic partnership.

He said that "joint projects in the field of military, security and defence industries form the backbone of our relations". 

"The Turkish military presence brings stability and peace not only for the brotherly people of Qatar, but also for the entire Gulf. Only those planning chaos would be bothered by Turkey and its military presence in the region," he added.

The Turkish president said he hopes the three-year blockade on Qatar by its Gulf neighbours will soon be resolved.

Ankara and Doha have grown closer since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with their former Gulf ally more than two years ago.

The bitter rift came over accusations that Qatar supports extremist groups and wants closer links with Iran, the arch-rival of regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia, claims Doha strongly denies.

On Turkey's relationship with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Erdogan said Ankara was working on developing the relationship.

"We always keep our doors and hearts open to everyone who does not feel hostility towards our nation and does not make special efforts to undermine the interests of our country," he said.

Erdogan said: "We have a special relationship and friendship with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Salman bin Abdulaziz, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

"On the other hand, the activities carried out by the Abu Dhabi administration in the Gulf region and in various Islamic regions, from Libya to Syria and Palestine, are unfortunately very negative."

Agencies contributed to this report

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