Syrian opposition says no talks with Assad after Turkish overtures to regime
The head of Syria’s main opposition coalition has said that there will be no change in his movement’s policy towards the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, following moves by Turkey to restore ties with Damascus.
Salem Al-Meslet, the head of the Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said in a statement published on the group's website that "the Assad regime is a genocidal regime that has committed thousands of war crimes and massacres against the defenceless Syrian people".
He said the opposition movement remains committed to bringing down the regime.
The comments follow an announcement that Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar had met with his Syrian regime counterpart Ali Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, with possible meetings to follow between the Turkish and Syrian foreign ministers.
Ankara broke off relations with the Assad regime in 2011, after the brutal suppression of peaceful pro-democracy protests in Syria. Turkey has hosted 3.5 million Syrian refugees and given support to Syrian opposition groups.
Meslet praised Turkey in his statement, saying that it had "taken a great position" towards the Syrian people and revolution.
He said he had received reassurances from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that there would be "no change in Turkey's positions" and "no one spoke of normalisation or reconciliation with the Assad regime".
Following the announcement of the meeting between the Turkish and Syrian regime defence ministers, protests broke out in rebel-held areas of Syria against any possible reconciliation between Turkey and the regime.
Turkey later downplayed reports of a rapprochement with Damascus.
Badr Jamous, the head of the Syrian Opposition’s Negotiating Committee, told The New Arab’s affiliate Syria TV that Turkish officials had only discussed cooperation against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with the Assad regime, not the status of rebel-held Idlib province or areas held by pro-Turkish Syrian groups in northern Syria.