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US does not support possible reconciliation between Turkey and Syria

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An official from the US Department of State has said the US government will not support any efforts aimed at reconciling with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the wake of recent statements from Ankara signaling a green light for dialogue with the Damascus administration.

When Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the Department of State, was asked at a news conference by a journalist on Thursday about recent comments made by Turkish officials hinting at eventual reconciliation with Damascus and how the US administration sees them, Patel said Turkey is an important NATO ally and has played an integral role in continuing to hold Russia accountable for its barbaric actions in Ukraine.

“But to be clear, this administration will not express any support for efforts to normalize or rehabilitate Bashar al-Assad. The US does not intend to upgrade our diplomatic relations with the Assad regime, and we don’t support other countries normalizing their relations, either,” said Patel.

In a move that sharply contradicted his earlier stance against Assad, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a statement last week that Turkey needs to take further steps in a newly announced process of reconciliation with the Syrian government.

Erdoğan said Turkey will need to take “further steps” with Damascus to end the “games” being played in the region.

“You have to accept that you cannot cut political dialogue and diplomacy between countries. There should always be such dialogue,” he added.

Turkey has strongly opposed Assad throughout the 11-year civil war and backed some rebel groups.

Patel also said the United States would not lift sanctions on Syria or change its position to oppose the reconstruction of Syria until there is authentic and enduring progress towards a political solution.

“We urge states in the region to consider very carefully the atrocities inflicted by the Assad regime on the Syrian people over the last decade as well as the regime’s continuing efforts to deny much of the country access to integral humanitarian aid and security,” he added.

According to UN Human Rights Office estimates, more than 306,000 civilians have been killed over 10 years in the Syria conflict, while about 13 million Syrians in total have been forcibly displaced, which makes up more than half the country’s population.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also revealed earlier this month that he had briefly met with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal al-Meqdad, in Belgrade last October — the first such meeting reported since 2011. Çavuşoğlu also reaffirmed Turkey’s call for the Syrian opposition to reconcile with Assad’s government.

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