Turkish president urges countries with influence on the ground to ensure ceasefire is implemented.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said the planned ceasefire for Syria was a “historic opportunity” to end the nearly six-year Syrian conflict, saying it was a chance that could not be wasted.
“This chance absolutely should not be lost. This is a historic opportunity,” he told a news conference in Ankara alongside Kosovo President Hashim Thaci. “This is a window of opportunity that has been opened and should not be squandered,” Erdogan added in his first public comment on the ceasefire deal that was announced earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Erdogan reaffirmed that “terror groups” were not included in the deal brokered by Turkey and Russia, which is due to come into force at midnight. He indicated that Turkey would press on with its four-month incursion into Syria against Islamic State jihadists and Kurdish militia.
“The fight against terror groups, including Daesh, will continue with determination until the security of our citizens is assured.”
Without naming countries, he said other states with an influence on the ground in Syria should show “the necessary sensitivity” to ensure the ceasefire is implemented.
The president confirmed that the ceasefire agreement had come about after talks between Russian representatives and the Syrian opposition hosted by Turkey in Ankara over the last weeks. However, he denied that peace talks overseen by Turkey and Russia planned to be held in the Kazakh capital Astana after the ceasefire is implemented were meant as a rival to the U.N.-brokered Geneva process, saying they were meant to complement and support those discussions.