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Turkey is in Syria because Syrians don’t trust the regime, Erdogan adviser tells Rudaw
by Karwan Faihidy Dri from Rudaw.net
13-10-2019 - ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Turkish military is in Syria because the Syrian regime cannot be trusted to protect its own people, an advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Rudaw in an exclusive interview on Friday. 
 Yasin Atkay, an advisor to Erdogan in the Turkish leader’s capacity as head of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), told Rudaw TV Syrian refugees in Turkey may not be safe if the regime takes back control of northern Syria. 
I wish there were such a thing where Syria could protect its own people and do such operations. Then, it would not be necessary for Turkey,” said Atkay. “If Syria says that it will come and fight with the terrorists and the opposition and take all their revenge on civilians - as you know that millions of people fled to Turkey - we do not want this”.
In the wake of Syrian unrest in 2011, millions of Syrians fled to Turkey and other countries, including Jordan, Lebanon and Europe.
There are currently 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey. 
The Turkish government wants to move its Syrian refugee population - mostly Arabs - to predominantly Kurdish areas in northern and northeast Syria, where many Christians and Arabs live as well. 
Turkey is currently embroiled in a fight with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria, which it says is a terrorist organization, and seeks to transfer the refugees to areas the SDF now controls. 
Public opinion in Turkey has largely turned against Syrian refugees this year, making it politically popular to move the refugees to Syria. However, many Kurds say the plan is an attempt to demographically change the area and displace them. 
Aktay said that Turkey no longer has to “pay the price” for the wrongdoings of Syrian regime, adding that while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is in power, Syrians will not return to government-held areas.
As long as Assad stays in power, no one will return to their country as they do not trust Assad,” he said. “Therefore, that region will never be a safe zone. All these killing mechanisms have to be removed and taken away from him [Assad]”.
The advisor claimed that “Turkey is trying to rectify these conditions” through its operations against Kurdish forces in northern Syria to settle the refugees there.
Turkey was widely criticized by the international community, including Arab countries - for the operation. Aktay described the criticism as “impudent,” asking why they are silent about the invasion of other countries but speak up against Turkish operations.
Turkey has been a major backer of rebel forces in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011. After the tide of the war turned in favor of the regime following Russia’s intervention in 2015, Turkish-backed groups began focusing on fighting the SDF instead of the regime. Turkey’s rebel allies took Afrin from the SDF in 2018, for example, prompting many Kurds to flee the city. 

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