ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey said on Wednesday the presidential election in Syria was illegitimate and that a United Nations-led push for a political solution to the decade of conflict there must continue.
Syria’s government has said Wednesday’s vote, certain to extend President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, shows that the country is functioning normally despite the war which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced 11 million.
Turkey backs rebels who tried to oust Assad and has waged several cross-border offensives into Syria since 2016 against Kurdish militants and Syrian government forces. It has also held talks with Russia and Iran, which both back Damascus, for a political solution to the conflict.
“The election organised today by the Syrian regime does not reflect the free will of the people and carries an illegitimate nature,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said, adding the vote was “not held under free and fair conditions”.
The election went ahead despite a U.N.-led peace process that had called for polls under international supervision to pave the way to a new constitution and political settlement.
“It is important that the regime’s attempts at achieving artificial legitimacy through the election, of which the results are expected, are prevented and for the political process being carried out under U.N auspices and the leadership and ownership of Syrians to be continued,” the ministry said.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans)