Friday, August 12, 2022

Mass demonstrations in northern Syria condemning Ankara's call for "reconciliation" between the government and the opposition

    Friday, August 12, 2022   No comments

Thousands protested across parts of rebel-held northern Syria [See locations in attached pam] on Friday after Turkey's foreign minister called for reconciliation between Ankara-backed Syrian opposition groups and the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

More than 11 years after the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the northwestern region near the Turkish border is the last stronghold still under the control of fighters seeking to overthrow Assad, with control divided between militant groups and other fighters backed by Turkey.

The Turkish government maintains thousands of troops in the area and supports an alliance of anti-Assad armed groups under the banner of the Syrian National Army.

"We need to bring the opposition and the regime together in order to somehow reconcile, otherwise there will be no lasting peace," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara on Thursday.

After he spoke, protests began in areas of Syria controlled by opposition forces, with people waving opposition flags in the streets on Thursday night and pulling Turkish flags from buildings including police stations and local administration offices.

"We have suffered from this criminal for 11 years and we will continue our revolution," teacher Mahmoud Salo, 45, told Reuters during a protest in Azaz, Idlib, on Friday.

About three thousand people gathered in Azaz on Friday, while protests erupted in other areas of the northwestern Idlib province and in the northern areas of the neighboring province of Aleppo.

A Reuters reporter in the region said many Turkish consultants who work in a number of local institutions did not come to work on Friday.

Ahmet Shobak, a refugee from Aleppo who works as an engineer in Azaz, said Cavusoglu's comments were unacceptable.

"If Turkey wants to stand with the world that is already against us, so be it, it won't change anything much," he added. But we hope that Turkey's position will become more positive."


Yesterday, the cities and towns under the control of the Syrian opposition, in the north of the country, witnessed protests against Çavuşoğlu’s statements. The cities and towns of Al-Bab, Azaz, Sego, Jarabulus, Al-Ra’i and Marea in the countryside of Aleppo, Salqin and Idlib witnessed demonstrations during which protesters burned the Turkish flag and raised slogans condemning the statements of the Turkish Foreign Minister, calling To the continuation of the protests, the reactions of the Syrian opposition, through its statements and the positions of its leaders, varied, between those who aligned with the demonstrations and denounced the new Turkish position, and the opposition forces that refused to offend Turkey and denounced the burning of the Turkish flag.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed a meeting he had with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Conference in Belgrade months ago, declaring that Turkey was seeking reconciliation between the regime and the opposition for the sake of Syria's stability and territorial integrity.

Organizations and figures in the Syrian opposition denounced Çavuşoğlu’s statements, and the so-called Department of Political Affairs in the opposition Salvation Government in northern Syria, where Turkish influence areas, said, “We followed up with strong condemnation these statements that offended the Syrian people and their great revolution, as well as the positions of the countries that sympathized, supported and supported this blessed revolution, Proceeding from its moral and humanitarian principles, foremost of which is the Republic of Turkey and its generous government, these statements come in a context of interest that is not befitting the principles of Turkish policy that is biased towards the just causes of oppressed peoples.

Fahim Issa, the commander-in-chief of the "Revolutionary" movement, one of the largest armed groups in the north, said, "There is no reconciliation with Assad, no reconciliation with terrorism and killers. There is no place for Assad or the regime in the future of Syria." "We will not betray the blood of our martyrs, and we will not betray the country's revolution," he added.

Meanwhile, the Defense Minister of the so-called Syrian Interim Government, Hassan Hamadeh, said: “At the first cry of the people wanting to overthrow the regime, it was the point of no return. It's over, there is no alternative to toppling Assad."

Opposition figures praised the movements and demonstrations denouncing the statements of the Turkish Foreign Minister. While others denounced the demonstration and burning of the Turkish flag.

The so-called Syrian National Army confirmed in a statement that “the flag of the Turkish Republic, as the flag of the Syrian revolution, is a source of pride, a title for victory, and a emblem for a great people, and its place is above the heads of the brave and the bodies of the martyrs.”

The statement stressed the need to hold accountable those who crossed their borders by insulting the Turkish flag.

As for the Ministry of Defense in the opposition’s interim government, it retracted in a statement, describing the Turkish flag as “sacred for the people for those who shed their blood on Syrian lands from the Turkish army and people.”

She vowed to hold accountable those she called "ignorant people" who do not represent the constants of the revolution.

She explained that some parties in Syria aim to "destabilize the relations of brotherhood and blood between the Turkish and Syrian peoples, to serve the enemies."

As for the National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, it stressed its refusal to burn the flag of the Turkish people, which hosts 4 million Syrians, and indicated that the blood of the Turkish people was mixed with the blood of the Syrians.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry clarified the Turkish position on the situation in Syria, and said in a statement issued by the ministry’s spokesman: “Turkey, since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, has been the country that has worked the most to support solutions to the crisis based on achieving the legitimate demands of the people.”

He added: “In this context, Turkey was at the forefront of the parties that worked to consolidate the ceasefire on the ground, and contributed to the Astana and Geneva tracks, building the Constitutional Committee and providing full support to the opposition and the negotiating body. And it is working on a solution in Syria in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254.



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