President and Putin talk Syria crisis in phone call
TURKEY’S President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin by phone on Thursday and discussed the situation in Syria. Mr Erdoğan also discussed the crisis in Syria with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday. They agreed to stay in close touch.
Turkey condemned the use of chemical weapons in Douma, a rebel-held town in Syria’s eastern Ghouta, Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
“We strongly condemn the attack, which there is strong suspicion was carried out by the regime, whose record on use of chemical weapons is known by the international community,” the ministry said.
Ankara, which has been working with allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a political resolution to the crisis in Syria, called for international action against the attacks in Douma.
“The Syrian regime must give account for the attacks in various regions of the country at different times,” a spokesman for Mr Erdoğan said on Sunday.
“The entire international community, primarily countries that have an influence on the Syrian regime, has a responsibility to take the necessary steps in order to prevent similar war crimes and crimes against humanity,” İbrahim Kalın said.
On Tuesday, Mr Erdoğan also criticised Russia’s stance on the future of Syria’s Afrin region, saying that Ankara itself would decide the details of returning the area to the Syrian people.
“We know very well who we’ll hand Afrin to. First, let’s talk about handing over areas controlled by other countries in Syria to Syria,” Mr Erdoğan told reporters, dismissing comments from Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov who on Monday said the easiest way to normalise the situation in Afrin was to put the area back under the control of Syrian government, the Interfax news agency reported.
“When the time comes, we will give Afrin to the people of Afrin personally, but the timing of this is up to us, we will determine it, not Mr Lavrov,” he said.
While Turkey is cooperating with both Russia and Iran to wind down some of the violence in Syria, Ankara has long demanded that Mr Assad must go and has backed rebels against him.
Mr Assad’s main backers are Moscow and Tehran. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that Afrin should be handed over to Syria’s army.