Erdogan: Assad wants a 'mini-Syria' between Damascus and Latakia

Erdogan: Assad wants a 'mini-Syria' between Damascus and Latakia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has accused the regime of seeking to partition Syria and carve out a mini-state along the Mediterranean
2 min read
24 September, 2015
The Assad regime seems to be abandoning the hinterland and retreating into its strongholds [Getty]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is seeking to establish a "mini-Syria," which would comprise Damascus, Hama, Homs, and Latakia.

Combined, these areas constitute 15 percent of the total surface area of Syria.

Erdogan, in press remarks he made after the Eid al-Adha prayers in Istanbul, also said that Assad wants to create his own state along the Mediterranean, controlled and supported by his loyalists and allies.

The Turkish leader said his country supports the unity of Syrian territory, and wants a Syria free of terrorist organisations.

He then reiterated what he said was the need to establish a safe zone in Syria, to allow Syrian refugees to return there.

Erdogan said he spoke with the Russian President Putin about this issue during their meeting in Moscow on Wednesday, pointing out that Russian and Iranian support for the Assad regime is no longer covert.

Erdogan revealed that he had agreed with his Russian counterpart for the foreign ministers of their two countries, in addition to the US Secretary of State, to discuss the Syrian issue together during the UN General Assembly session.

Erdogan said Saudi Arabia, Iran, the EU, Jordan and Qatar could be included in future talks on Syria.

On a different note, Erdogan criticised the US Department of State for not designating the Kurdish Protection Units (YPG) operating in Syria as a terrorist organisation, describing this as a "mistaken assessment."

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said at a press briefing in Washington: "We don't consider the YPG a terrorist organization, and they have proven successful against ISIL [Islamic State group -- IS] inside Syria."