Assad killed ‘nearly 1 million people,’ must go: Turkish FM
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should step down “immediately” to open way for a political settlement, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on April 11, holding him responsible for the death of “nearly 1 million people” during the seven-year-long conflict in Syria.
“The Assad regime should absolutely leave power in Syria. It is not the first time the Assad regime used chemical weapons. Leaving the chemical weapons aside, he has killed nearly one million people using other weapons through aerial bombing, barrel bombs and conventional weapons,” Çavuşoğlu said at an event on Islamophobia organized in the Turkish capital Ankara, replying to a question about the recent attack in Syria’s besieged town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta.
“Thus, this individual should leave power immediately and we should move on to a political process,” he added.
The April 7 attack took place in the town near Damascus, the capital, amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces after the collapse of a truce.
The Syrian government and its main ally, Russia, deny the accusations.
When asked about a possible military action against the Syrian regime by Western countries, “We will wait and see,” Çavuşoğlu said, recalling that the proposal to investigate the chemical weapons attack was vetoed by Russia in the United Nations Security Council.
Stop the street fight: Turkish PM
“Particularly those countries with big power in their hands, permanent members of the U.N. [Security Council], are under a much bigger responsibility during these days. But what are they doing? Threatening each other via tweets! It’s street fighting. They are fighting like street bullies. But who is paying the price? Civilians,” he said in his speech at the 21st Eurasian Economic Summit in Istanbul.
“It is not the time for rivalry. It is the time to heal the wounds in the region and to come together and to leave aside the fight… It is time to join hands to ensure the territorial integrity of both Iraq and Syria and to wage a full scale fight against terrorist organizations without any double standards and prioritization among them. That is what we are doing as Turkey,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed concern to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over attacks in Eastern Ghouta on April 9.
According to a statement by the Turkish Presidency, Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a phone conversation on the issue.
“President Erdoğan expressed concern about the attacks in Douma and Eastern Ghouta and emphasized the importance of preventing civilian deaths and working together to deliver humanitarian aid,” said a Turkish presidential source after the talk between the leaders.
Turkey has been working closely with Russia and Assad’s other main ally, Iran, in what they call a bid to bring peace to Syria.