“The meeting cannot happen under Erdogan’s conditions,” Assad said in an excerpt of an interview to be aired later on Wednesday on Sky News Arabia.
Assad’s remarks come as Ankara and Damascus have been attempting a rapprochement after a decade of frozen ties.
In mid-July, Erdogan said Ankara has not closed the door on peace negotiations with Damascus and that he is “open” to a meeting with Assad, as part of normalization efforts between the two countries.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey has never “shut the door” to discussions with the Syrian government, adding, however, that Damascus’ condition of a complete withdrawal of Turkish forces for such a meeting was “unacceptable.”
Ruling out the possibility of Turkey withdrawing from areas in northern Syria, Erdogan claimed, “We are fighting against terrorism there. How can we withdraw when our country is under continuous threat from terrorists along our border… We expect a fair approach.”
Turkey severed its relations with Syria in March 2012, a year after the Arab country found itself in the grip of deadly violence waged by foreign-backed militants.
Now, after over a decade, the two neighboring countries are taking steps toward reconciliation.
Turkey deployed forces in Syria in October 2019 in violation of the Arab country’s territorial integrity.
Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push militants of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria announced the Turkish offensive has killed hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children, since it started.
Turkey has also played a major role in supporting terrorists in Syria ever since major foreign-backed insurgency overtook the country more than ten years ago.
President Assad and other senior officials have said the Damascus government will respond through all legitimate Syrian means available to the ongoing ground offensive by Turkish forces and allied Takfiri militants in the northern part of the war-battered Arab country.