Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that Turkey has differences of opinion with Russia about Syria's political change.
"We have some differences of opinion if it will be with or without Assad", Cavusoglu said during an interview on Russian state-run television channel, Rossiya-24.
"In our opinion, it is not possible that the opposition will unite Assad, because they don't want to unite a regime, who killed at least 500,000 people," he said.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests -- which erupted as part of the "Arab Spring" uprisings -- with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.
The Syrian Center for Policy Research, however, put the death toll from the almost six-year conflict at more than 470,000 people.
Separately, Cavusoglu said Turkey is targeted by many terrorist organizations such PKK, Daesh, DHKP-C and YPG in Syria.
The PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU – resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July last year. Since then, PKK terrorist have attacked have martyred more than 700 security personnel and also claimed the lives of many civilians, including women and children, while more than 8,000 PKK terrorists were killed in military operations.
"Why is Daesh targeting Turkey? First of all, Turkey has a very important role in the coalition to fight Daesh and many countries' fighter jets are in our airbase. The jets of NATO countries within the coalition in Incirlik air base are carrying out operations against Daesh. And we join the fight against Daesh actively", he said.
Cavusoglu said that the other reason is the ground operation in Syria against Daesh.
Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield in late August to clear Syria's northern border area of terrorists.
It aims to boost security along Turkey’s borders, to clean terrorist groups and to protect the territorial integrity of Syria.
In addition, Cavusoglu talked about the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet last November and said he would visit the deceased pilot's spouse if she accepts.
Relations between Russia and Turkey soured last November after the downing of the jet, which had violated Turkish airspace along the Syrian border. Relations began to thaw June 29 following a letter and subsequent telephone calls between the countries’ leaders.
"We wanted to make gestures for the family of the [deceased] pilot. Sergey Lavrov said that Russia did everything so there is no need to do as a gesture. I said that my spouse and I can visit the pilot's spouse if she accepts", the Turkish minister said and added that he wants to once again convey their sadness.
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