Russian air strikes vile, cruel and barbaric: Turkish PM
AA photoTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has strongly denounced Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria, declaring it “vile, cruel and barbaric,” while also chastising Ankara’s allies, particularly Washington, for shying away from condemning Russia’s acts with a clear language.
“Those vile, cruel and barbaric planes have made close to 8,000 sorties since Sept. 30  without any discrimination between civilians and soldiers, or children and the elderly,” Davutoğlu said Feb. 16 in parliament.
“Now supposedly moving toward peace with the Munich meeting, they are resuming the same flagitious attacks so that Turley’s corridor to Aleppo will be closed and Aleppo will be destined for hunger before a cease-fire is reached,” he said.
Tensions between Turkey and Russia have soared over Moscow’s backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s air campaign against what it claims are “terrorist” targets in the country.
Turkey has long backed al-Assad’s ouster and like other Western nations, accuses Russia of predominantly bombing Syrian rebel groups backed by Washington and its allies instead of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Al-Assad’s forces have most recently used Russian air support to move ever closer to the rebel stronghold of Aleppo in northern Syria, which alarmed Ankara that Syrian Kurdish militia could take control of the region near the Turkish border.
Ankara considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its militia force, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), to be branches of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union as well as Turkey.
Turkish artillery has been attacking Syrian Kurdish targets since the weekend. Russia has described Turkey’s shelling of Kurdish and Syrian government positions in the north of the country as a “provocative” action.
“Russia is slaughtering oppressed people with these bombardments; Turkey is trying to ensure its border security with retaliations launched from its border and to create a safe zone for the oppressed people, but Russia is complaining about Turkey at the U.N. Security Council. Why? Because it is a member of the U.N. Security Council,” Davutoğlu said.
“What is interesting is that the U.S. and our other allies, who need to fling this crime in Russia’s face, are saying, ‘We are condemning bombardments targeting civilians in Aleppo’ [with reference to] an anonymous criminal, as if there is no criminal and subject in the open. Who conducted this bombardment? Say it openly, by name,” he said.
The prime minister also accused the PYD/YPG of being “Russia’s legion working as mercenaries” with the priority of harming Turkey’s interests.
“The YPG and PYD are not representatives of the Kurds, not of Syria, they are Russian legionnaires and mercenaries,” he said.
“In the face of all of these provocations, I’m calling on beyond Syria, beyond Iraq and everywhere. Nobody should attempt to exploit the Kurds. The Kurds’ state, patron and protector is the state of the Republic of Turkey.”