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Astana peace conference ends with a defiant message: Turkey must leave Syria

SYRIA demanded that Turkey immediately withdraw its troops from the country, accusing Ankara of “an obvious and clear aggression” as the Astana peace conference closed today.

Syria's envoy to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari told reporters after the talks that Turkish soldiers who entered the country illegally must leave, accusing them of acting as an occupying force in parts of the country.

“We demand Turkey withdraw all its troops if they want to help Syria. First of all the troops who illegally entered the territory should be withdrawn as well as US troops who are present in many areas in the north-eastern parts of Syria. 

“They should have been withdrawn. All international organisations should say that, starting with the UN security council,” Mr Jaafari said.

Ankara has previously been accused of supporting terror groups in Syria, allowing militants to cross the border to fight President Bashar al-Assad.

Liberal Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet reported on the seizure of a lorry in January 2014 which was loaded with weapons it claimed were headed to arm jihadists.

The report, which was accompanied with video footage, linked the operation to the national intelligence organisation (MIT).

In January, Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch, an illegal invasion and occupation of the peaceful city of Afrin conducted with jihadists in the Free Syrian Army.

Turkey has been accused of war crimes and ethnic cleansing of Kurds with Afrin’s Health Council reporting on a chemical attack being launched on the city’s civilian population in March.

Negotiations earlier this year saw the establishment of a buffer zone in Idlib as Turkey insisted it would defend the remaining jihadists as Syrian government forces launched a major offensive to retake the province.

Mr Jaafari said Turkey was asked to establish observation posts but instead sent soldiers to several cities across the country.

“Turkey should have established 12 checkpoints there, police posts. Instead, they sent armed forces to many Syrian cities. It concerns us very much. 

“We are concerned that Turkey doesn’t comply with its obligations [from the] the Astana talks and Sochi forum. Moreover, the Turkish armed forces are currently present in many cities in the north-western part of Syria,” he said.

He warned Turkish forces were changing the names of Syrian villages, putting up their flags and In some areas establishing Turkish-speaking schools and using Turkish currency.

“That is why we consider it an obvious clear aggression. We have a lot of proofs that could testify to what I say,” Mr Jaafari added.
 

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