Syria 'doubts Turkey's intentions in anti-ISIL effort'
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
A handout picture released on July 26, 2015 by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows President Bashar al-Assad delivering a speech in the capital Damascus. AFP PhotoSyria's foreign ministry said July 29 it was sceptical about Turkish efforts to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in its first official reaction since Ankara began air strikes against the jihadists.
"It is better late than never, but are Turkish intentions to fight the terrorists of Daesh [ISIL], Al-Nusra Front, and Al-Qaeda-linked groups genuine?" the ministry asked in a letter to the United Nations.
"Or is it aiming to hit the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, maybe for other internal reasons?"
Turkey has conducted air strikes in Syria against ISIL since early July 24, after Ankara claimed a Turkish soldier was killed in cross-border fire by the jihadists.
The raids have also struck Kurdish militants in Iraq.
The ministry's letter made no direct mention of the strikes, but said that Syria "rejects the Turkish regime's attempt to paint itself as a victim that is defending itself", accusing Ankara of supporting "terrorist" groups.
Turkey also gave formal approval on July 29 for the United States to use a southern air base for raids against ISIL in Syria, after domestic and international criticism that it was not doing enough to curb ISIL activity along the border.
Syria's regime has repeatedly accused the Turkish government of supporting "terrorists" -- the word it uses to describe all armed groups opposed to Damascus.
"Syria has said for years that terrorism has no nation, religion or borders and warned terrorism's supporters that it would come back to them," the letter read.
"Unfortunately, we have lately begun to witness terrorism beginning to bounce back towards its supporters," it said.
Meanwhile, Turkey considers Bashar al-Assad's regime as the cause for the region's current turmoil.
Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has recently pointed the finger at al-Assad, arguing the atrocities of the Syrian regime allowed for terrorist groups like ISIL to flourish.
“If there is one person who is responsible for all these terrorist crimes and humanitarian tragedies in Syria, it is [al-]Assad’s approach, using chemical weapons, barrel bombs against civilians. Terrorist organizations like [ISIL] were able to become active in Syria because of that power vacuum,” Davutoğlu said, speaking to CNN International's Christiane Amanpour.
The spectacular rise of ISIL prompted the US and its allies to begin an air campaign against the jihadist group in September 2014.