Russia more concerned with Syrian presence than fighting ISIL: Erdoğan

Russia more concerned with Syrian presence than fighting ISIL: Erdoğan

Russia more concerned with Syrian presence than fighting ISIL: Erdoğan

DHA photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has implied Russia was very quick to display its military presence in neighboring Syria, while indicating it has yet to seriously combat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIL had joint features, Erdoğan repeatedly suggested, while addressing a group of local village chiefs on Dec. 8.

“Don’t mind that the two appear to have been fighting each other,” he said. “Two persons who are citizens of both Russia and Syria are buying oil [from ISIL] and selling it to both the regime and the world.”

Last week, Erdoğan said he had proof Russia was involved in illegal oil trade with ISIL in Syria, countering “immoral” Russian allegations that his own family was importing oil from the jihadists.

“We see that those who haven’t displayed a serious fight against this organization are very quick and agile in displaying [their] military presence in Syria under the same pretext,” he said on Dec. 8, in an apparent reference to Russia’s presence in Syria and perceived inactivity against ISIL.

The Nov. 24 downing of a Russian military aircraft by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) near the Turkey-Syria border prompted Moscow to reinforce its contingent in Syria. According to reports, the most significant reinforcement has been the deployment of a sophisticated S-400 air defense system. Its large tubular launchers and associated radar and command vehicles are now in position at the Russian air base near Latakia, reports said.

“These are ‘bold burglars.’ You know, there is a saying: ‘The bold burglar suppresses the landlord,’” Erdoğan said, using a Turkish idiom which refers to somebody who makes others believe with his aggressive behavior that he is right even when he is wrong.

“That’s what they have been doing. We have never looked at the Syrian issue like them and we will not,” he said. “Now, finding a reasonable, logical and sustainable solution for this issue under the light of history and facts has become a moral obligation for the international community. In this regard, we insist on rapid implementation of our proposals to create safe zones free of terror and a train-and-equip program for moderate opposition.”