Erdoğan says Turkey will remain in Syria ‘until the Syrian people are free’: report

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that Turkish forces, which have carried out several incursions into northern Syria since 2016, would remain in the country until the Syrians can live in freedom and safety, Reuters reported.

“Nowadays they are holding an election, a so-called election,” Erdoğan said of a parliamentary election on Sunday in Syria’s government-controlled regions, after nearly a decade of civil war.

“Until the Syrian people are free, peaceful and safe, we will remain in this country,” he said in a speech in Ankara.

Turkey has been backing the anti-government rebels since 2011, providing military assistance and equipment.

Meanwhile, a car bomb attack in northwestern Syria’s Azaz region killed five people and wounded 85 others, a local hospital in Syria and Turkish state media said on Sunday.

The incident took place in the village of Siccu, across the border from Turkey’s southern province of Kilis, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said.

It said 15 of the wounded had been taken to a hospital on the Turkish side of the border and that some were in critical condition.

Azaz has been under the control of rebels backed by Turkey since Ankara’s first incursion into Syria in 2016.

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