Journalist: Questions have been raised about the Russian-Turkish agreement, particularly the item related to maintaining the status quo in the region which was subject to the Turkish aggression, Tal Abyadh and Ras al-Ain with a depth of thirty-two kilometers. What some people understood from this was that it legitimized the Turkish occupation, particularly that the agreement did not include any Syrian role within these areas which were discussed in the agreement. What is your response to that?
President Assad: First, the Russian principles have been clear throughout this war and even before the Russian base that started supporting the Syrian army in 2015. These principles are based on international law, Syrian sovereignty and Syria’s territorial integrity. This has not changed, neither before, nor after, nor with changing circumstances. However, Russian policy deals with the realities on the ground. These realities on the ground have achieved two things; the withdrawal of armed groups from the north to the south in coordination with the Syrian Army, and as such the advance of the Syrian Army to the north, to the area not occupied by the Turks. These two elements are positive, but they do not cancel out the negative aspects of the Turkish presence until they are driven out one way or another.
This agreement is a temporary one, not permanent. If we take for example the de-escalation areas at a certain period of time, some people believed that they were permanent and that they will give terrorists the right to remain in their areas indefinitely. The fact was that it was an opportunity to protect civilians, and also to talk to the terrorists with the objective of driving them out later. So, we have to distinguish between ultimate or strategic goals on the one hand, and tactical approaches on the other. In the short term, it is a good agreement – and let me explain why; the Turkish incursion, not only reflects Turkey’s territorial greed but also expresses American desire. The Russian relationship with Turkey is positive because it reigns in Turkish aspirations. On the other hand, it outmaneuvers the American game in the north. Let me explain this.
The recent German proposal which was immediately supported by NATO – and the Germans would not make this except on behalf of the Americans, NATO is the same thing as America. The proposal talked about restoring security to this region under international auspices. This means that the area would be outside the control of the Syrian state and thus making separation a reality on the ground. Through this agreement, the Russians reigned in the Turks, outmaneuvered the Americans and aborted the call for internationalization which was proposed by the Germans. That is why this agreement is a positive step. It does not achieve everything, in the sense that it will not pressure the Turks to leave immediately. However, it limits the damage and paves the way for the liberation of this region in the future, or the immediate future, as we hope. Läs hela intervjun