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Turkey's Military Campaign in Syria, Iraq Aimed at 'Annexing Two More Provinces'

© REUTERS / Umit Bektas/File / A Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier waves as they drive from the border back to their base in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 27, 2016
A Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier waves as they drive from the border back to their base in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province, Turkey, August 27, 2016 - Sputnik International
Commenting on Turkish President Erdogan's recent harsh rhetoric directed towards Syrian leader Bashar Assad and his explanation of the Turkish invasion into Syria, political observer for Turkish daily Aydınlık, Mehmet Ali Güller revealed to Sputnik Turkiye the real purposes the Turkish leader is pursuing in Syria.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference following the National Security Council and cabinet meetings at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, July 20, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Now, as Syrian government forces retake swathes of eastern Aleppo, threatening to crush the opposition in its most important urban stronghold, Turkish President Erdogan has lashed out at President Assad.

On Tuesday, the Turkish leader revealed the aims of the Euphrates Shield operation.

"Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes the state. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason," the president said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.

However on Thursday Recep Tayyip Erdogan changed his rhetoric, claiming that the Turkish military operation in Syria is aimed at "no country or person but only terror organizations."

Turkish Hurryiet Daily News then suggested that such a sharp contrast in the president's rhetoric occurred after his phone conversation with President Putin on the Syrian issue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Turkish President Recep Erdogan during the group photo session of the heads of G20 nations, invitees and international organizations in Hangzhou - Sputnik International
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Meanwhile, commenting on Erdogan's remarks, political observer for Turkish daily Aydınlık, Mehmet Ali Güller told Sputnik Turkiye that Ankara's goal in Syria us to annex the city of Aleppo as the 82nd province of Turkey.

"Erdogan is pursuing several aims in Syria," he told Sputnik.

"Apart from the purposes he outlined at the launch of the Euphrates Shield operation, which are the protection of Turkish borders from Daesh and countermeasures against the set-up of the Kurdish belt in the north of Syria, there is one more aim for Ankara's operation, which has been outlined by the pro-government Yeni Şafak newspaper, and that is an annexation of Aleppo as Turkey's 82nd province," he said.

"We could suggest that there might be an agreement reached between the US and Turkey that the US would launch an operation to liberate Raqqa while Turkey would concentrate on Aleppo. Thus the Syrian territory would be split into certain spheres of influence," he added.

The political observer further suggested that Bashar Assad, taking into account the above agreement, has re-oriented the Syrian government forces, which have been moving towards Raqqa, at the city of al-Bab in the Aleppo Governorate, as it is the gates to the city of Aleppo.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's interview with Rossiya Segodnya Director General Dmitry Kiselev - Sputnik International
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"Thus the advance of the Turkish troops towards al-Bab caused the tactical re-maneuvering of the Syrian army, which took a sweep from Raqqa towards al-Bab," he suggested, commenting on the recent reports that the Syrian army has taken a swift turn from Raqqa and has got very close to al-Bab.

The Turkish troops meanwhile have been forced to suspend their advance towards al-Bab after an attack on their positions.

Hence, Mehmet Ali Güller suggests that al-Bab might lead to an open confrontation between Turkey and Syria. And this might be the reason for Erdogan's recent hostile rhetoric towards President Assad.

The political observer also suggested that Erdogan is also using his foreign policy strategy as a tool in his internal policy to pursue the transition towards the presidential form of power in the country.

"There is a virtual aim that the leading Justice and Development Party (AKP) is laying out to its voters. This aim might be defined as "Syrian Aleppo is 82nd Turkish province, Iraqi Mosul – the 83rd," he said.

Syrian men walk past a poster bearing a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in the capital Damascus, on February 27, 2016, as the first major ceasefire of the five-year war takes hold and an international task force prepares to begin monitoring the landmark truce - Sputnik International
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He further suggested that Turkish authorities are trying to peg this aim to transitioning the country towards the presidential form of governing, as they think that they could win the public support of the constitutional reforms following Turkey's victory in the region.

Thus Erdogan is making Aleppo part of his domestic political rhetoric, he explained.

With regards to the Kurdish issue, Güller explained that in order to prevent the set-up of the Kurdish corridor in Syria, Turkey should be "facing militarily at Manbij while politically – at Damascus."

"If Turkey's true aim is to prevent the set-up of a Kurdish corridor in the north of Syria, it should be done not through Al-Bab, but through Manbij, and politically – through Damascus. Without a dialogue between Ankara and Damascus there is no way of preventing Kurdish territorial initiative," the political observer finally stated.

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