Russia must stop insisting on Assad's leadership in Syria: Turkish FM

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Turkey remains committed to a ceasefire in Syria, but Russia must stop insisting that Bashar al-Assad should remain as leader of the country, Ankara's foreign minister said on Sunday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, in live comments on state broadcaster TRT Haber, also said that he told his Russian counterpart that Moscow did not take the necessary steps in the face of breaches in the Syrian ceasefire.

Takfiri groups such as ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly known as Nusra Front, are exempt from the ceasefire deal which Russia reached with Turkey in December.

The early Friday missile attack by the US came ahead of a fresh push for peace talks. This is while President Assad is widely seen as holding the balance of power both in the talks and on the battlefield.

Cavusoglu said Turkey remained committed to the ceasefire, adding he had raised the issue of alleged truce violations by the Syrian government with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavov.

US cruise missiles hit Shayrat Airfield in Syria’s Homs Province earlier this week, killing 15 Syrians and causing material damage. Washington said the offensive was prompted by an alleged chemical attack on the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib Province which killed over 80 civilians.

Washington has failed to provide any proof that the Syrian government was behind the purported gas attack, with Damascus categorically denying the US accusation.



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