President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey was not seeking to seize any Syrian territory despite intensifying its attacks on Kurdish forces in the war-torn north of the country.
Erdogan’s comments came days after a Turkish airstrike on a Syrian border crossing run by regime forces reportedly killed 17 fighters.
A war monitor reported that Kurds manning some of the Syrian border crossings and regime forces were killed in the Turkish raids.
Syria’s official news agency said three government soldiers were killed in the attack.
Turkey said it was responding to a strike on its own positions along the border that killed two soldiers.
The firefight marked one of the biggest escalations since Ankara and Damascus swapped attacks in 2020.
Erdogan appeared to attempt to calm tensions in comments to reporters aboard his flight home from his first wartime visit to Ukraine.
“We have no eyes on the territory of Syria because the Syrian people are our brothers,” Erdogan told Turkish media.
“The regime must be aware of this.”
Erdogan’s visit to Ukraine came two weeks after he traveled to Sochi for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that also covered Syria.
Putin’s support has been instrumental in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad survive an 11-year conflict against rebel groups backed in part by Turkey.
Erdogan said he told Putin he wanted to cooperate more closely with Russia in areas of northern Syria where Ankara targets Kurds whom he considers “terrorists”.
“We are in contact with Russia with every step we take in Syria,” Erdogan said.
Three Syrian soldiers killed and 6 injured in Turkish airstrike against military posts