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Turkey: Assad and Qaeda ‘backstage partners’

Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu says Assad is not ‘lesser evil’ than al-Qaeda

Published: Updated:

The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad and al-Qaeda’s affiliate known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are “backstage partners,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday.

“Certain circles showcase threats of al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) so as to manufacture a perception that the Assad regime is the lesser of two evils, trying to cover up the oppression of a regime which is responsible for the killings of over 150,000 people,” Davutoglu said in a televised interview, according Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.

“The regime and the ISIL are backstage partners,” Davutoglu added.

The Turkish minister said a “psychological war” was being waged against his country with claims that it is supporting extremist militants in Syria.

“The Syrian regime accuses the opposition with terrorism and thus they gain legitimacy to suppress the so-called act of terrorism with a bigger act of violence,” he said. “This situation triggers more clashes.”

Davutoglu stressed that the Syrian opposition National Coalition should attend a peace conference scheduled on Jan. 22 in Geneva. He said Iran, an ally of President Assad, could attend if it accepts conditions agreed on in Geneva 1.

Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syrian has recently waged a war against rebels vowing to “crush” them and threatening to stop fighting Assad’s troops.

But the Free Syrian Army fighters hit back storming the radical group’s camps in several cities, including the northern hub city of Aleppo.

A Syrian NGO said on Wednesday that there were “hardly any” ISIL jihadists left in Aleppo.
“ISIL withdrew from the Inzarat area after clashes with fighters from rebel... brigades, and the post office building was taken over by Islamist rebel fighters” who had been battling ISIL, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“There are hardly any ISIL members left in the city of Aleppo.”
The ISIL headquarters was seized earlier by fighters from several Syrian rebel brigades.