Erdoğan says received ‘strong signals’ Syrian crackdown nearing end
A Free Syrian Army fighter fires his weapon as another shouts during clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo's Salaheddine district on Dec. 29. (Photo: Reuters, Muzaffar Salman)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says Ankara has started to receive what he called “strong signals” that the 21-month old Syrian uprising is coming to an end in favor of Syrian opposition.
“This bloody, this despotic process that continues nearly two years is already nearing to end. A government that meets the demands of people in Syria – God willing – will come to power soon,” Erdoğan told a meeting in Şanlıurfa province on the Syrian border.
Noting that Syria is passing through a painful and bloody period, Erdoğan said this process has economically hurt Şanlıurfa. He added that militarily, Ankara has changed its engagement rules to meet the Syrian threat more effectively after a mortar shell killed five Turkish nationals in the province’s Akçakale district, just on the border with Syria.
Syrian rebels are fighting a 21-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad's regime. Activists say more than 40,000 people have been killed in the crisis, which began with pro-democracy protests but has morphed into a civil war.
With steady opposition gains across the north, President Bashar Assad's regime is having increasing difficulty sending supplies by land to Aleppo province, especially after opposition fighters cut a major thoroughfare from Damascus. It is just another sign that the opposition is consolidating its grip across large swathes of territory in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
Over the weeks, armed opposition fighting to overthrow Assad have also been able to take the battles into the capital Damascus, Assad's seat of power, where the southern neighborhoods are witnessing almost daily clashes between troops and opposition fighters.
The big successes began in mid-November, when opposition fighters captured Aleppo's Regiment 46, a large military base, carting off tanks, armored vehicles and truck-loads of munitions. Three weeks later, they captured the Sheik Suleiman base near the provincial capital of Aleppo and days later they took an infantry base in the city.
Saying that the crackown by the Syrian regime that has now left more than 40,000 people dead is coming to an end, Erdoğan said both nations will strengthen their cooperation. Noting that his administration has been criticized as the Syrian crisis prolongs, Erdoğan stressed that his government will take no heed to criticisms and won’t allow them to affect their motivation.
Erdoğan recalled the capture of Syrian airports by opposition fighters, which he said prompted Assad regime to use Scud missiles. “Whatever Assad will do, people will triumph. You need no worries on that. May be its price will be heavy and difficult. But sooner or later, Syrian people will triumph.”