Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan likely using recent coup bid to eliminate enemies

July 18, 2016 6:21 am

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (via AFP)

Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad says the Turkish president may be using the recent coup attempt
in to eliminate his opponents in government institutions.

Assad
was speaking at a Sunday meeting with a visiting delegation of Lebanese
politicians headed by Najah Wakim, the president of the Lebanese
People’s Movement, in the Syrian capital, Damascus, according to
Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.
Referring to the recent
developments in Turkey, Assad said there is no clear picture of what is
going on in Turkey yet and there are many speculations about the coup
attempt.
First comes a coup and then a purge?
The
attempted putsch in Turkey began on Friday night and the violence and
fighting between the rebel soldiers and government loyalists dragged
into Saturday, when the coup was largely defeated.
Following the
coup attempt, the Turkish government has arrested thousands of people on
suspicion of involvement in the putsch, and Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that the country may modify the Turkish
constitution so as to allow the execution of those involved in the coup
bid. Capital punishment is banned under the current Turkish
constitution.

“One cannot ignore the possibility that
, the Turkish president, is using these developments
to eliminate his opponents in Turkey’s military, judicial and political
institutions,” Assad said in his Sunday remarks, according to Al-Akhbar.

Various
Turkish officials, including Erdogan, have said those deemed to have
played a role in the coup attempt will pay a heavy price.
The
crackdown that has been launched in Turkey following the coup, including
the mass arrests of suspects, has raised international concern.
France on Sunday warned Erdogan not to use the coup attempt as a “blank check” to silence opponents.
“There
cannot be purges… Those who tried to violate Turkish democracy must be
pursued within the framework of the rule of law. It’s not for an
arbitrary power to carry it out,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc
Ayrault.
‘No compromise on the battlefield’
Elsewhere
in his remarks, Assad referred to the armed conflict in his own country
and said the fate of will have to be determined on the
battlefield.
“In the ongoing battle on Syrian soil, no compromise
can be made because armed groups that are being managed by foreign
parties can only be handled with the military,” the Syrian president
said.

A
handout picture made available on June 26, 2016 shows Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad (L) meeting with Syrian soldiers in al-Marj region in
Damascus Province. (Via AFP)He also expressed
gratitude for Iran as well as the Lebanese resistance movement of
Hezbollah for their assistance to the Syrian government and people in
the fight against terror.
Iran has been offering Damascus advisory
military help, and Hezbollah fighters have been assisting the Syrian
military in areas close to the Syrian-Lebanese border.
Russia,
another Syrian ally, has been conducting an aerial military campaign
against militant groups in Syria on an official Syrian request since
September 2015.
Assad said political, diplomatic, military and security cooperation continues firmly between his government and that of Russia.
West in contact with Syria behind the scenes
The
Syrian president also said Western governments have had secret contacts
with his government seeking security cooperation and even the opening
of security missions in Damascus.
He said Syria has informed them
that it will accept security cooperation with those governments only if
they restore normal ties with Damascus.

“Some
countries and Arab parties have secret contacts with us and say
explicitly that they do not publicize their stances toward the Syrian
developments lest the US and Saudi Arabia are angered,” President Assad
said.

He had said previously too that Western countries seek to secretly cooperate with Syria on security matters.
“They
attack us politically and then they send officials to deal with us
under the table, especially [on] security,” he said in previous remarks
in early July.
Western countries have supported the militants
fighting to overthrow Assad in a war now in its sixth year, which has
claimed some 400,000 Syrian lives, according to an estimation by the UN
special envoy to Syria.
The Syrian government is fighting militants, including from scores of countries.
Western
calls for Assad’s ouster have become relatively muted as they become
preoccupied with the rise of Daesh and other Takfiri groups striking at
the heart of Europe and as they realize the importance of Damascus’
fight against terrorism.

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