Syria’s Assad is a terrorist, not a political figure anymore: Turkish PM
Erdoğan speaks to the media after a meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in Ankara. AA PhotoTurkey prime minister’s has turned his guns once more on long-time nemesis Bashar al-Assad, claiming that Syria’s president is a “terrorist” for allegedly killing hundreds of thousands of his own citizens.
“I don’t regard Bashar al-Assad as a politician any more. He is a terrorist carrying out state terrorism. A person who killed 110,000 of his people is a terrorist. There’s state terrorism [in Syria], I’m speaking frankly,” Erdoğan told reporters yesterday after meeting with India’s visiting president, Pranab Mukharjee. “I’m having difficulty understanding those in the Turkish media who defend this [state terrorism],” Erdoğan said.
The prime minister made his comments after being reminded of a recent interview with al-Assad from dissident media outlets Halk TV and daily Yurt.
“It means that they can descend to the level of judging and disgracing their own PM with the person who carries out state terrorism,” the premier said.
Erdoğan maintained his strong language against the Syrian government despite messages of reconciliation from the international community after an agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal.
During a joint interview with Halk TV and Yurt, al-Assad warned that Turkey would “pay dearly” for supporting rebels fighting to “overthrow his regime.”
“In the near future, these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey. Turkey will pay very dearly for its contribution,” he said.
Al-Assad particularly expressed harsh criticism against Erdoğan, accusing him of “lying” and “supporting terrorists.”
The Turkish premier also criticized U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s appreciative remarks for Syria’s swift move to eliminate its chemical arsenal.
“You are a human being and me, too. How can we appreciate the behavior of a person who killed 110,000 people, I ask you. The result of either chemical or other types of weapons is death. Then how can we appreciate this? I cannot imagine a person who appreciates this. I don’t think Mr. Kerry made such statement. If he made it, he would be contradicting himself,” Erdoğan said, when asked to elaborate on Kerry’s remarks.
Speaking to reporters alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after talks in Indonesia, Kerry said the process of U.N. experts’ destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons had begun in record time and that they were “appreciative for the Russian cooperation and obviously for the Syrian compliance.”
“I think it’s extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the [U.N.] resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were being destroyed,” the U.S. secretary of state said. “I think it’s a credit to the al-Assad regime, frankly. It’s a good beginning and we welcome a good beginning.”
Erdoğan, meanwhile, also said the government’s study to shorten compulsory military service was continuing. As a result of an agreement between the army and government, the compulsory military service of male citizens will be shortened from 15 months to 12 months for private soldiers. The reduction will be put into practice with a Cabinet decree after finalizing their study, he added.