Several days after the Syrian defense minister held a breakthrough meeting with Turkey, the United States called Tuesday on all nations to think twice about rehabilitating the country’s brutal President Bashar al-Assad.
State Department spokesman Ned Price stressed that Washington does not support countries upgrading their relations or expressing support to rehabilitate the brutal Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
After the civil war that has killed half a million people, displaced half of Syria’s pre-war population, and saw the rise of the ISIS extremist group, the Syrian president has largely restored control over the country helped by Russian airpower.
Also, a growing number of countries have been accepting Assad as a victor with 2022 registering the lowest death toll since the war erupted.
The US is urging all states, as Price underscored, to carefully consider the Assad regime’s atrocious human rights record of the past 12 years pointing out that it continues to inflict atrocities on the Syrian people while denying them access to life-saving humanitarian aid.
Under the so-called Caesar Act that took effect in 2020, the United States authorizes sanctions against Bashar al-Assad over war abuses and bars US support for reconstruction without accountability.
As a key supporter of Syrian rebels seeking to topple Assad since 2011, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called the Syrian president a terrorist in 2017, has voiced readiness to meet Assad after rival neighbors’ defense ministers met last week in Russia.
Hoping to assuage the opposition’s concern following its overtures to Damascus, Turkey on Tuesday reiterated its support for a 2015 UN Security Council resolution that calls for a cease-fire and political settlement in Syria and welcomed its opposition leaders.
Tweeting images of his meeting in Ankara with the opposition Syrian National Council chief Mahmut al-Maslat and other leaders, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated Ankara’s support to the Syrian opposition and people in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2254.
It’s possible that the talks between the defense chiefs of Turkey and Syria be followed by a meeting between Cavusoglu and his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad in Moscow in the second half of January, which could set up a potential presidential summit.
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