TUNIS – Syrian President Bashar Assad is a terrorist and his continued presence represents an insurmountable obstacle to peace in that nation, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
“It’s absolutely impossible for advances to occur if Assad continues in Syria,” Erdogan said during a joint press conference with Tunisian counterpart Beji Caïd Essebsi.
“I say very clearly: Bashar al-Assad is a terrorist who has resorted to state terrorism,” the Turkish president said. “We cannot say that Assad can continue in his post. If we do that, we will be committing an injustice against the Syrian people.”
Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s opposition to Assad just days after agreeing with Iran and Russia on the convening of a Syrian National Dialogue Congress next month that will include representatives of the current government in Damascus.
Soon after Erdogan’s comments, Syrian official news agency SANA cited a foreign ministry official who accused the Turkish leader of being responsible for bloodshed in Syria.
Erdogan “continues to misdirect Turkish public opinion with his usual froth in an attempt to absolve himself of the crimes which he has committed against the Syrian people through advancing support to the various terrorist groups in Syria,” the unnamed official told SANA, referring to Ankara’s support for some rebel factions.