Foreign Ministry denies claims Turkish delegation will visit Damascus
by Ali Ünal
ANKARAOct 14, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Ali Ünal
Oct 14, 2016 12:00 am
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has denied claims that an official delegation will visit the Syrian capital of Damascus with an aim to restore relations with the al-Assad administration.
Turkish daily Aydınlık reported on Thursday that an official MFA delegation with Arabic-speaking diplomats will visit Damascus in the coming days. The paper also claimed that the main aim of the delegation will be to restore Turkey's relationship with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who led his country into a civil war that has killed thousands of civilians over the last six years. The paper further claimed that Turkey will restore relations with the Assad administration if Damascus accepts free elections and declares a general amnesty.
A high-level source from the Turkish MFA denied the allegation and stressed that such a visit is not being prepared nor planned. "The article that claims an official delegation from the MFA will visit Damascus is fictional and does not reflect the truth,'' said a diplomatic source.
Turkey's relations with Syria have soured since the Syrian leadership chose to go up against its own citizens in 2011 by engaging in a policy based on the brutal and violent suppression of protests and opposition. Since then, Turkey has chosen to stand by the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, and diplomatic sources indicated there has been no shift in this stance. The death toll in the Syrian civil war has risen to well above 600,000. According to the United Nations refugee agency, at least 7.6 million people are displaced inside Syria and over 4.5 million have fled the country.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Turkey has maintained an open door to the people of Syria, without discrimination. Over 3 million Syrian refugees from diverse backgrounds currently live in Turkey.