Turkey backs UN plan for Syria conditionally

Turkey backs UN plan for Syria conditionally

Sevil Erkuş - sevil.erkus@hurriyet.com.tr ANKARA
Turkey backs UN plan for Syria conditionally

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Turkey has extended cautious support to a United Nations plan to create “frozen zones” within Syria, while also noting its concerns with the proposals and reiterating its demands that any political recommendations must include the removal of the Bashar al-Assad government.

“The proposal is prepared with good will, but its practice should be secured,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu said on Dec. 19 during a press conference with Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic.

At the same time, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey could begin training and equipping moderate Syrian opposition fighters before March 2015. “The framework of the train-equip program has been clarified” in talks with the U.S., he said.

Speaking about the frozen zones, Çavuşoğlu said, “We support efforts by U.N. Special Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura and his proposal for a frozen zone” in Aleppo.

There are some deficiencies in the proposal, and Turkey has shared its views with de Mistura on the issue, he added, saying “Turkey will support any idea saving the lives of Syrians, although this plan has some shortcomings.”

In a recent meeting with de Mistura, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu conveyed Ankara's view on the plan, according to a Turkish diplomat.

“The plan does not include a political process,” the diplomat said, noting that a plan addressing al-Assad had not been proposed.

“Merely ending the clashes is not enough; a political process is must,” the diplomat said.

Regarding the train-equip program, the U.S. State Department said in October that Turkey had agreed to support the move, a core part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategy in Syria to field local forces to hold and eventually roll back Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) insurgents.