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‘Turkey can bring peace east of Euphrates in Syria’

ANKARA

The Syrian opposition wants Turkey to enter the area east of the Euphrates River, said the head of the Syrian military opposition committee on Friday.

A Turkish presence in the area will bring peace and keep terrorism away, Ahmad Tuma told a news conference

His remarks came after a two-day meeting in Nur-Sultan, the recently renamed Kazakh capital, following an international meeting on Syria in the Astana format.

Tuma said that the occupation of the YPG/PKK terrorist group east of the Euphrates must be ended and the land returned to its original owners, the Syrian people.

Referring to two successful Turkish counter-terror operations into Syria since 2016, Tuma stressed that Turkey is the only country that entered Syria at the request of the Syrian people.

Turkey protects Syrians from a “killer regime,” he added.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN officials.

The PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people.

The YPG, the PKK’s Syrian branch, has managed to occupy one-third of Syria under the guise of fighting Daesh with U.S. support.

Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations liberated Syrian border regions of YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, allowing hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians to return to their homes.

Turkey has said a third counter-terrorism operation is in the works.

‘Syrian regime blocking charter committee’

The Bashar al-Assad regime is trying to delay establishment of a committee to draw up a new constitution, said Tuma.

Saying that many important issues were discussed during negotiations, he added that the process of forming a constitutional committee would be further along if not for the regime hindering the process.

The Syrian opposition supports Turkey, Russia and Iran, the three guarantor countries of the Astana process for peace in Syria, condemning the U.S. decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Syria’s occupied Golan Heights, said Tuma.

“The opposition cares more about the integrity of the country than the regime. The regime kills its people instead of protecting the country,” he added.

On March 25, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a proclamation officially recognizing the Golan highlands on the border with Syria as Israel’s territory.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.

It occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights as a de facto result of the conflict.

It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981 — an action unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.

Writing by Beyza Binnur Donmez