Syrian soil will not become part of Russia’s “imperial goals,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu vowed on Dec. 22, saying those who oppress the Syrian people will have to face Turkey.
“Russia has to approach other peoples with friendship and mutual respect by abandoning Soviet-style lies and allegations. Syrian soil is not and will not be part of Russia’s imperialistic goals,” he said, while also condemning Russia’s recent military attacks in Aleppo and Idlib that killed dozens of unarmed civilians.
“The Syrian people are friends and brothers to us. We have always tried to stand by them in every of their problems. Afterwards, those who tyrannize, those who take on Syrians will have to face us,” Davutoğlu said in an address to his parliamentary group on Dec. 22. Although he did not specify any country, Davutoğlu’s comments were a thinly veiled reference to Russia, whose recent military campaign has allegedly targeted civilians in Aleppo and Idlib.
“We strongly condemn the Russian Air Force’s strike in the morning of Dec. 20 on the center of Idlib. The premises of the governorship and residential areas were targeted. According to initial findings, more than 40 Syrians were killed and 35 Syrians wounded. Opposition authorities later said the death toll increased to 200,” he said. “This is shameful for humanity. We observe these attacks with dismay. It’s obvious that civilians were [targeted] during these attacks.”
The relationship between Turkey and Russia have been strained since the former downed a Russian warplane on Nov. 24 on the grounds it violated Turkish air space. Russia’s military campaign, which started on Sept. 30, has been strongly criticized by the Western bloc, which alleges that its real target is the putative “moderate” opposition forces instead of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Only 391 strikes out of 4,198 carried out by Russia have targeted the DAESH [the Arabic acronym of the ISIL]. The remaining bombardment has taken place in regions near the Turkish border targeting moderate opposition and even civilians,” Davutoğlu said, questioning the presence of Russia on Syrian soil.
“What is the basis of your presence in Syria? Why are 90 percent of your air operations targeting civilians and moderate opposition groups? Why are you bombing the Turkmen mountains, Idlib, Aleppo and innocent civilians even though you say you are there to fight DAESH?”
Likening the situation in Syria to 1990s Bosnia, Davutoğlu said Turkey would raise its voice against those who are behind attacks on Muslims in the name of the brotherhood of the peoples of the Middle East.
He also called on the international community to move against attacks on civilians.
ISIL more powerful after Russia intervention
ISIL’s presence in northern Syria has become visible in the wake of the Russian intervention that began at the end of the September, Davutoğlu said. “In comparison with the situation on Sept. 30, DAESH is [in control of] bigger areas,” he said.
He also criticized a resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council last week, saying it lacked a realistic perspective while acknowledging that Turkey regarded the move as a positive development for a peaceful solution to Syria’s unrest.