Turkish PM rings the alarm, as Russia increases military presence in Syria

Turkish PM rings the alarm, as Russia increases military presence in Syria

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkish PM rings the alarm, as Russia increases military presence in Syria

DHA photo

Turkey has been more outspoken on Russia’s moves to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, warning that militarily backing his regime risks further hampering efforts of peace on the eve of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s key visit to Moscow Sept. 23.

Ankara, in line with international efforts to bring Russia into plans for a political transition in the war-torn country, stepped up efforts to urge Moscow for a political solution in Syria. The U.N. General Assembly is expected to be a venue for talks focused on political solutions in Syria, with efforts to deal with the migration crisis affecting Europe and Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu rang alarm bells over Russia’s increasing military buildup in neighboring Syria, calling it “very dangerous,” and noting the issue will be on the agenda of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s upcoming visit to Moscow.

Recalling Russia’s longtime support for Syria, Davutoğlu said this support had now become more visible. “They have taken [it] into the field. This is very dangerous. Therefore, we watch with deep concern,” the prime minister said in a televised interview late Sept. 21.

Russia, a strong backer of Syria’s President Bashar Assad, has increased its military buildup in the country as the embattled leader faces setbacks on the battlefield at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and other faction fighters.

Russia has deployed 28 combat planes in Syria, AFP has said, quoting U.S. officials. According to the officials, Russia has sent 12 SU-24 attack aircraft, 12 SU-25 ground attack aircraft and four Flanker fighter jets.

Erdoğan to discuss Syrian crisis with Putin

Davutoğlu cited President Erdoğan’s visit to Moscow scheduled on Sept. 23 and said he would raise issues regarding Syria during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“İnşallah [God willing] Russia will not insist on ways and methods that will increase the tension,” he said.

International community and U.N. Security Council’s permanent members should gather and take steps for a political solution in Syria, the prime minister noted.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is the “main [one] responsible and is [to] blame for dangerous escalation which caused the problem to deepen,” he said. However, he also placed blame on “the international community, which merely contented themselves monitoring the entire process by making Syria a mutual power game.”

The Syrian issue would be essence of his speech at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly meeting, he added.

Erdoğan’s visit to Moscow comes after Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu’s talks in Sochi with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week. Talks once more have brought differences to light regarding Ankara and Moscow’s perspectives on Assad’s role in Syria. 

Ankara has urged parties that Assad can have no role in Syria’s future or in the political transition period.  Yet, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stressed that the timing of Assad’s departure should be decided through negotiations.

“It doesn’t have to be on day one or month one. There is a process by which all the parties have to come together and reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved,” he said on Sept. 18, after talks with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

Turkish FM continues phone diplomacy on Syria

Meanwhile, Sinirlioğlu continues his phone conversations with colleagues regarding the Syrian crisis and worsening migration crisis. He discussed the issue with Hammond and EU’s Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Sept. 21.

They have also discussed developments in the Middle East, particularly Syria and Libya, according to diplomatic sources.