Syria chess game won’t stall Turkey – Erdoğan adviser

A grand international chess game is being played out in Syria, but it won’t stop Turkey from securing its borders, according to Ilnur Çevik, senior adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be thankful to Turkey, “because once a political solution is reached in Syria, Turkey will hand over all these areas to the rightful administrators in Damascus,” Çevik said in a column for the Daily Sabah newspaper on Wednesday.

Turkey shelled pro-Assad militants as they entered the northwestern enclave of Afrin on Tuesday to help the People’s Defence Forces (YPG) defend Syrian territory against a Turkish invasion. While Erdoğan said Turkey repelled the attempted incursion, witnesses on the ground said the fighters reached the area and will help police the border.

“Turkey served notice to its Russian and Iranian friends in Syria that it will not tolerate any deal between the regime and the YPG for the terrorists to prevail,” Çevik said.

Erdoğan ordered Turkish troops into Afrin on Jan. 20 to battle the YPG, saying the group is indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade war for autonomy from Turkey at the cost of about 40,000 lives. Assad, who is backed by Russia, opposed the move saying it was an infringement of Syria’s territorial integrity and the United States, which is allied with the YPG in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS), warned Ankara to show restraint.