World Bulletin / News Desk
Any political transition period in war-torn Syria must be part of a "formula" which guarantees the departure as soon as possible of President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday.
"The focus should not be on a transition period with Assad, but on a formula that will see him go and such formula should be implemented as soon as possible," he said at a press conference.
Davutoglu was speaking after news broke that the Syrian president had travelled to Moscow on Tuesday for talks on the crisis with President Vladimir Putin, accused by the West of propping up Assad and his regime.
"Turkey's Syria policy is very clear. We believe that the Syrian government, which barbarically attacks its people, is no longer legitimate," Davutoglu said.
He even joked that if Assad had only spent longer on his lightening trip to Moscow, his first foreign visit since the conflict broke out in 2011, "the Syrian people would have felt at ease and this transition period could have begun".
Turkey backed Assad's regime until the outbreak of the civil war in 2011, after which it switched its support to opposition fighting to overthrow him. Since then it has insisted the Syrian president must go.
Last month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested for the first time that Assad could be part of a future transition.
"The process could possibly be without Assad, or the transitional process could be with him," he said.
But he admitted that no-one in Syria "envisages a future with Assad" because it is "impossible for them to accept a dictator who has led to the deaths of up to 350,000 people".
Assad is thought to be drawing strength from Russia's controversial air campaign.
While Moscow says it is targeting the extremist ISIL group, the West accuses it of helping Assad by striking moderate opposition forces.
NATO member Turkey is part of a U.S.-led coalition bombing the ISIL in Syria.Last Mod: 21 Ekim 2015, 14:24