Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has dismissed claims that Turkey has supported the arming of fighters in Syria and Iraq.
“Turkey has not allowed arms support and border crossings to armed fighters in Syria, including the Free Syrian Army [FSA]. It has only allowed humanitarian aid,” Arınç told reporters on June 13.
He said Turkey had had in “no contact” with the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is currently spreading across northern Iraq. “Definitely, we were not in connection with these groups anyway. We obey all measures taken by United Nations Security Council decisions on the fight against terror and its financing. We have adopted these measures with our Cabinet decisions,” Arınç said.
The deputy prime minister added that “according to government records,” Turkey had not
“deliberatively” allowed any weapons, financial aid or fighters into Syria or Iraq.
“Our Western friends also say that Turkey acts responsibly on this issue,” he said, noting that the government had taken measures on its borders, while not ruling out the possibility of a “small number of Turkish citizens” have joined the rebels in Syria.
Arınç also stated that neither the captured Turkish diplomats nor truck drivers had been freed in Mosul. He said the Turkish government had made contact by telephone with the hostages and they had “not been exposed to any bad treatment.”
“I hope we will get good news today, but the situation is still fragile,” he said, adding that Ankara was demanding that the groups release the truck drivers “as soon as possible.”
Responding to claims that the truck drivers had already been released, Arınç said there was a “vacuum” in the region and a number of armed groups, tribes were in efforts to take political or financial advantage of it.
He said the attack on the Turkish consulate and the kidnappings of Turkish staff did not necessarily mean that Turkey has become a target.
Turkey received prior warning of the attack on its consulate in Mosul, but had decided not to evacuate its staff from the compound.
Arınç backed the decision to stay at the consulate. “We were more or less informed that ISIL was going to target our consulate while advancing [through Iraq] … But what would Turkey turn into if we decided to evacuate the consulate, bring down our flag and run away just because militants had started to march 100 kilometers away? We had to observe where they would stop and what the military would do. I think we made the best decision by following the incidents until the last moment, with worries about the lives of the people inside,” he said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry held a coordination meeting on June 13 on developments with the Turkish hostages in Mosul and the ongoing evacuation of Turkish nationals in the country, with the participation of the ministers of economy, energy, transportation and the national intelligence chief.