Turkey welcomes US-led strikes targeting Assad regime in Syria

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Turkey on April 14 welcomed U.S.-led strikes targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as an “appropriate response” in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack that left dozens dead.

“We welcome this operation which has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of the attack in Douma, largely suspected to have been carried out by the regime,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of strikes against the Assad regime on April 14, a week after the suspected deadly gas attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma.

Ankara said the attacks, with weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, that indiscriminately target civilians, “constitute crimes against humanity” and they should not go unpunished.

“The Syrian regime, which has been tyrannizing its own people for more than seven years, be it with conventional or chemical weapons, has a proven track record of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” the ministry said.

“The conscience of the international community is in no doubt about that,” it added.

Addressing crowds in Istanbul’s Fatih district, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan voiced support for the joint operation into Syria.

“We find the operation appropriate,” Erdoğan said, welcoming the strikes.

“With the joint operation by the U.S., U.K. and France on April 14, the Syrian regime received the message that its massacres wouldn’t be left unanswered,” Erdoğan told his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters in an Istanbul meeting.

“The innocent Syrian people should have been defended long ago,” he added.

Speaking at the sixth regular congress held by the AKP in Istanbul, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also expressed views about the strikes, saying “it is a positive step.”

No reaction against Assad’s acts ‘unthinkable’: Kalın

“The use of chemical weapons is a violation of international law and a crime against humanity,” Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said in a statement on April 14.

“It would have been unthinkable for the international community to not retaliate against the Syrian regime, which appears to have carried out a chemical attack in Douma on April 7. The perpetrators of that heinous assault must be held accountable for their actions. We urge the international community to unite and prevent future chemical attacks,” he said.

Turkey is a vocal critic of Assad’s regime in Damascus and backed rebels fighting for his ouster, but in recent months it has closely worked with Russia for a political solution in Syria even though Moscow remains a chief ally of the regime.

‘Turkey was informed prior to the strikes’

Meanwhile, Mahir Ünal, a longtime-ruling AKP deputy and spokesperson, said Turkey was informed about the operation prior to the strikes on April 14, speaking to private broadcaster CNN Türk.

“It is a serious warning against chemical attacks,” Ünal said.

‘İncirlik was not used’

“Turkish and U.S. chiefs of staff were in contact upon the order placed by [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] and Mr. [Donald] Trump,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said.

“Incirlik Base was not used [in the strikes],” Bozdağ added, referring to the U.S. military air base in Turkey’s southern province of Adana.

Erdoğan speaks with May over Syria

Erdoğan spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the phone to discuss the latest developments in Syria on April 14, Doğan News Agency reported.

“Erdoğan highlighted the importance of not escalating tensions in Syria even further [to Theresa May],” the report read.

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