Turkey ‘uncomfortable’ with US-Russia tensions in Syria


Ankara: Turkey is “very uncomfortable” with some countries that have turned Syria into an “arm wrestling” arena, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
“We are very uncomfortable that some countries, which rely on their military power, are turning Syria into an arm wrestling arena,” Erdogan said at opening ceremony of 36-kilometre long Baskentray rail in the capital Ankara.
Erdogan’s remarks came a day after US President Donald Trump warned Russia on Twitter to brace for US military engagement in Syria following a suspected chemical attack in the eastern Ghouta town of Douma, on April 8 that killed dozens of people.
Trump also blamed Moscow for being partners with “a gas killing animal”, referring to Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad.
Trump’s posts on Twitter followed a warning from Moscow that the risk of a direct military clash between Russia and the US in Syria “is higher than before”, with a Russian envoy saying that US missiles flying over the war-ravaged country would be shot down.
Erdogan said that that he had spoken by phone with the US President Donald Trump on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in Syria.
“Today, I will talk to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. How we can stop this chemical massacre [in Syria], I will again talk to him about this,” he added.
Fight against terrorism
Erdogan said at least 4,123 terrorists had been neutralised since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralised” in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
On January 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated Afrintown center, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since 2012.
Erdogan said YPG/PKK terrorists would be eliminated “one by one”, adding: “We will continue our presence and activities in Syrian territories until they become safe for everyone.”
He also slammed those who support the “bloody Assad regime” and YPG/PKK terrorist organisations”.
Erdogan said that the number of “neutralised” PKK terrorists in northern Iraq was 337.
Airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the terror group has its main base in the Mount Qandil region, near the Iranian border, have been carried out regularly since July 2015, when the PKK resumed its armed terror campaign.