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‘Turkey will not leave Syria until election is held’

By Reuters - Oct 04,2018 - Last updated at Oct 04,2018

ISTANBUL — Turkey will not leave Syria until the Syrian people hold an election, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

"Whenever the Syrian people hold an election, we will leave Syria to its owners after they hold their elections," Erdogan said at a forum in Istanbul.

Erdogan agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month to set up a demilitarised zone between rebel and government fighters in northern Syria. It also has a presence in the northwest Afrin region and further east, around Jarablus.

Erdogan also said on Thursday that Turkey is not experiencing difficulty in conducting talks with radical groups in Idlib, the last major rebel-controlled enclave outside Syrian President Bashar Assad's control.

Hayat Tahrir Al Sham, which includes the Al Qaeda-linked group formerly known as Al Nusra, is the most powerful alliance in Idlib. Turkey designated the group a terrorist organisation in August, matching a decision by the United Nations in June.

Last month, in a summit in Sochi, Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to create a demilitarised zone with a depth of 15-20 km, from which radical groups will withdraw by October 15.

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