Turkish president says Putin not telling truth about lack of intel on Syria’s Turkmens
AA photoTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Russian President Vladimir Putin does not tell the truth over Turkey not sharing intelligence about Turkmens in Syria before Russia started conducting airstrikes in the country.
“[Russia] says lately that ‘we were not informed about the Turkmens.’ They are not speaking the truth. There are witnesses, they all stand with us,” said Erdoğan late Dec. 21, speaking at an award ceremony in Turkey’s western province of Bursa.
“I, in person, told Putin during an inter-committee meeting that ‘there is no Daesh there, there are the Bayır Bucak Turkmens.’ I told him all [this information] but unfortunately [people] who are not honest tell such lies all the time, they will keep on telling [lies],” said Erdoğan, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
During his annual press conference on Dec. 17, Putin said he had never heard of Turkmens in Syria.
“I’ve never heard anything about these so-called Turkmen,” Agence France-Presse reported Putin as saying.
“I know that there are our Turkmen, living in Turkmenistan,” he said, referring to the ex-Soviet Central Asian country.
Ties between Turkey and Russia have been tense since Turkey downed a Russian warplane on Nov. 24 along its border with Syria on grounds of airspace violation, which led to the death of two pilots.
While Russia claims that its jet never left the Syrian airspace, Turkey says the Russian aircraft violated Turkish airspace despite several warnings.
Russia officially entered the conflict in Syria when it started to conduct airstrikes in the country on Sept. 30, on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.