Deputy PM says Turkey will not leave Syria soon

<p style="text-align: left;">The Turkish army will withdraw from Syria&amp;rsquo;s Afrin after a political settlement in the country is reached, Turkey&amp;rsquo;s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve come there not as occupiers and we are not going to stay, respecting Syria&rsquo;s territorial integrity. We have cleared Afrin of terrorists; our forces continue clearing mines there. There&rsquo;s a power vacuum in Syria now, there are different forces, the opposition. We will transfer power to local residents in Afrin, who will normalize their lives themselves. For now, it is important to find a political solution to the crisis, and as soon as it is found, we will leave the country,&rdquo; Bozdag told reporters, Sputnik reported.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had expressed hope that Ankara would return Afrin to Syrian government control.

Last month, the Turkish Armed Forces had established full control over Afrin.

On January 20, Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch in Syria&rsquo;s northern district of Afrin in order to clear the border from what it described as &ldquo;terrorist army.&rdquo;

The operation has drawn strong condemnation from Damascus, which has described Ankara&rsquo;s offensive as a &ldquo;violation of Syria&rsquo;s sovereignty.&rdquo;

Reporter&rsquo;s code: 50101

News Code 4319

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