Turkish PM says Washington tells Ankara it wants al-Assad to go: Reports
Syrians wait at a checkpoint at the Syrian border crossing of Bab al-Hawa on the Syrian-Turkish border in Idlib Governorate, Jan. 21, 2015. REUTERS/Abed KontarSpeaking to British media, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Washington is still telling Ankara it wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go, ruling out recent reports suggesting Washington is giving up on its insistence of ousting al-Assad.
The New York Times said this week that Washington now appeared to be supporting the idea of a “more gradual change,” a shift now focusing more on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) instead of the al-Assad regime in Syria.
The report claimed the U.S. fears ousting al-Assad would lead Islamist groups, including ISIL, to grab more power, eventually making their defeat much harder amid the growing threat they pose to the West.
However, Davutoğlu brushed off the policy change claims. In two separate interviews with British dailies The Times and The Independent, both published on Jan. 22, he said he does not believe these reports.
He further claimed U.S. officials had been saying openly and “telling us behind closed doors” that it still wants al-Assad to go, The Independent quoted him as saying.
Turkey cannot stop jihadist flow: PM
Davutoğlu has also been quoted as saying Turkey cannot close its nearly 1,000-kilometer long border with Syria amid mounting pressure on his government to tighten border checks to stem the flow of foreign fighters joining the Islamist extremists battling in Syria and Iraq.
“We cannot put soldiers everywhere on the border. In any case, there isn’t any state on the other side [of the frontier],” he told The Independent.