Davutoğlu condemns executions by Syrian rebels, but warns of 'propaganda tactics'
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu listens during a press conference with his Canadian counterpart John Baird in Istanbul, on Sept. 14. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELTurkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has publically condemned the executions committed by al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel groups, reported in Time and Paris Match magazines Sept. 14. He warned however about “propaganda tactics” aiming to delegitimize the opposition by using these reports.
“The photographs published today in the press have to be violently condemned. [These actions] can’t be excused. It is out of the question for us to show double standards to such incidents,” Davutoğlu said, during a press conference with visiting Canadian counterpart John Baird in Istanbul on Sept. 14.
“But starting from this point of view, attempts at casting a shadow on the Syrian people’s rightful struggle as if all rebel forces were [carrying out similar executions] is a propaganda tactic. We condemn the methods of the extremist groups. However, it is not an excuse for the [causes of] the death of innocent civilians,” he added.
Davutoğlu also said that Ankara welcomed Syria’s steps on chemical weapons, but stressed that these developments should not erase the crimes committed up to now.
“The delivery of chemical weapons should not create any opportunity for those who killed 100,000 people until now to escape from their responsibilities. The massacre in Syria should be stopped and punished,” Davutoğlu said, also strongly criticizing that Damascus’ official announcement of handing over its chemical weapons is expected to come in a month’s time.
“The international community should not surrender to the regime’s tactics of gaining time. Following the initiative, [we] witnessed an increase of aerial strikes in Syria. We cannot accept pretending that using Scud missiles or bombarding its own population is not a crime.”
Davutoğlu emphasized that the government did not want a war but to stop the ongoing war. “While we are doing this press conference, Syrian air forces are bombing several regions of Syria, children are being orphaned and women widowed. Nobody should deviate the target. Our primary task is to stop this atrocity,” he said.
Davutoğlu also pointed out that things would have been very different should the United Nations Security Council have agreed on a resolution. “If the Security Council would have sent warning and dissuasive messages, perhaps most of our 100,000 brothers who have died would be alive today. Surely, the 1,700 people [who died during an Aug. 21 chemical attack in the outskirts of Damascus] would be alive. Because Syria would not have found the courage to accomplish this crime against humanity,” he said.
For his part, Canadian Foreign Minister Baird expressed support for Turkey’s position on Syria. Baird stressed that he expected the U.N. Council to agree on a harsher condemnation and that those responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical attack should “render account.”
Baird also said Syrian President Bashar Assad could not be given extra time. "This is a man, who up until a week ago denied that they had any such weapons," he said.