Assad has no role in Syria's future, Tillerson says

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 02.08.2017 23:44

The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that despite working in coordination with Russia in Syria the U.S. does not see the Assad regime as part of the country's future.

Speaking about the current situation and a peace process, Tillerson said there were two conflicts underway in Syria, the war against Daesh and the civil war "that created the conditions for [Daesh] to emerge," one reason why the U.S. had been hoping to avoid the outbreak of a civil war.

He said that they were working with Russia to achieve a unified Syria that will have "the opportunity for the Syrian people to put in place a new constitution, have free and fair elections, and select a new leadership."

Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday, Tillerson also acknowledged Turkey's role in resolving the ongoing crisis.

He reaffirmed the U.S. support for the Geneva process and vowed to work with "the neighbors in the region as well as … stakeholders in Syria," and added that he wanted to honor U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass for his work in the region.

"Turkey has a big role to play in this. As you know, our relationship with Turkey is a bit under stress as well, and Ambassador Bass has been most helpful and remarkable in how he's led our efforts there in Ankara," he said.

Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have been strained recently because of Washington's continuous support for the PKK-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

Turkey considers the PYD and YPG to be the Syrian offshoots of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU.

However, the U.S. considers the YPG to be an effective force in the fight against Daesh in Syria. Turkey, however, argues that because of the ideological and organizational links between the groups, U.S. support for the YPG is transferred directly to the PKK to ultimately be used against the Turkish state and its people.

Ankara said that an alternative force to the YPG could be found through an alliance with local Arab tribes and backed by other countries in the region, rather than supporting and arming "a terrorist group."

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