Assad made the remarks as he met Syrian army personnel on frontlines of al-Habit town in Idlib province, close to the last major bastion of Ankara-backed militias.
“Erdogan is a thief… he has robbed the factories, wheat and oil, and today he is stealing the land,” Assad stated.
With the war now in its eighth year, capturing the Idlib province would be an important victory for Assad, who has recovered control of major part of the country with Russian air support.
“We said and continue to say that the Idlib battle is the core to decisively end chaos and terrorism in all of Syria,” Assad added.
Idlib remains the last stronghold of various Western-backed militant factions in the country that oppose the Damascus government.
“When we face an aggression or robbery, we should stand by each other… but some Syrians haven’t done it, particularly over the first years of the war… we told them not to bet on abroad, but on the army, the people and the homeland… Yet they didn’t listen, and currently they are betting on the US,” the Syrian leader underlined.
“The first act we have done when the aggression started in the North is to communicate with different political and military forces on the ground, and we said that we are ready to support any group that would resist, and it isn’t a political decision, but a constitutional and national duty, and if we don’t do that, we don’t deserve the homeland,” he underscored.
Turkey has recently begun an assault against Kurdish militias in Northern Syria with the help of militants who control swathes of territory North of Idlib.
A five-day ceasefire was reached in negotiations between Erdogan and US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday, a week after Ankara and its allied militants launched a new military campaign in Northern Syria dubbed ‘Operation Peace Spring’ that has triggered widespread global condemnation.
Erdogan on Tuesday warned that Turkey will relaunch its offensive in Syria even more strongly if Washington breaks its promises to Ankara.
Hours before a ceasefire between Ankara and Kurdish fighters in Northern Syria is set to expire, Erdogan held talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday.
Putin and Erdogan’s talks will focus on “normalising the situation” in Northeast Syria, according to the Kremlin.
Meantime, the Kurds have also struck an agreement with the Syrian government in a move to be shielded against the Turkish onslaught. The agreement envisages the dispatch of Syrian government troops to the Kurdish-held territories to receive control and block the incursion of the Turkish Army and its allied militants.
Though the Kurdish militias delivered control over a number of towns and villages to the Damascus army, including Manbij, Raqqa, and Kobani, they started giving up territories to the Turkish army instead of the Damascus troops last night.
Once US President Donald Trump declared a pullout of troops from the Kurdish regions in Northern Syria to leave the so-called allied militias alone in the face of the Turkish onslaught, the enraged Kurds cried out against Washington’s disloyalty and its instrumental use of the Kurdish population; yet now once again they have started compliance with the US-brokered agreement.
Damascus has repeatedly reiterated that any foreign troops in Syria is regarded as an occupying force and the Syrian government has the right to take all the needed measures to confront it. The Damascus government has for several times stressed that “every inch” of the Syrian territory will be liberated from terrorists.