x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

'Turkey won't send troops to Syria'

Turkish foreign minister says rebels can defeat Assad without help despite deploying Nato Patriot missile batteries near Syrian border. Mr Davutoglu said the "oppressive Syrian regime" has "created its own end".

ABU DHABI // Turkey's foreign minister says the nation is not planning military action in Syria or to arm rebels, despite increased tensions on their joint border.

Ahmet Davutoglu said yesterday that the Syrian resistance could overcome the regime of Bashar Al Assad without intervention from Ankara.

He was speaking to The National on the sidelines of the Global Counterterrorism forum in Abu Dhabi.

"The Syrian people who resisted in the streets for the last 20 months will end the regime, not any other intervention," Mr Davutoglu said.

He added that the Syrian people have now taken their destiny into their own hands.

"The internal dynamics of the Syrian people will shape the destiny of Syria," he said.

Mr Davutoglu described the move by Nato members - the Netherlands, Germany and the United States - to send Patriot missile batteries to Turkey as a defensive action to counter the Syrian regime's border breaches, and their use of ballistic missiles against rebels.

"This is a defensive action because there were several violations of the Turkish border by the Syrians," he said.

"This is the border of Nato and there is also the risk of ballistic missiles which have been used, therefore we have implemented one of our contingencies by deploying Patriot missiles."

Turkey has repeatedly scrambled jets along the joint border and responded in kind when shells from the Syrian conflict crossed the border.

Mr Davutoglu said the "oppressive Syrian regime" has "created its own end".

"Turkey has always been with the people of Syria and we believe oppressors cannot survive. As many observers believe, the days of the regime are ending," he said.

"I hope the regime will end with out any more bloodshed."

According to Mr Davutoglu, there are more than 142,000 Syrian refugees in Turkish camps and another 60,000 to 70,000 people in various Turkish cities since the beginning of the conflict.

"We have been doing everything to help our Syrian brothers and sisters and in camps they have all the facilities - three hot meals a day, kindergartens and schools," he said.

The Turkish government has spent more than US$400 million on Syrian refugees so far, Mr Davutoglu added.

"We will be doing more and we declared an open-door policy which will continue. Our doors, our homes, our hearts are open to our Syrian brothers and sisters," he said.