Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu pledged to return a “historical debt” to Turkey’s “Aleppo brothers” who helped defend the country in the early 20th century, just days after Russia warned of Ankara’s intentions to invade Syria as the rebels there falter.
“We will return our historic debt. At one time, our brothers from Aleppo defended our cities of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, now we will defend the heroic Aleppo. All of Turkey stands behind its defenders,” Davutoglu said at the meeting of the Party of Justice and Development parliamentary faction, which he heads.
Davutoglu was apparently referring to World War One and subsequent events in the Turkish War of Independence, seemingly glorifying the defense and retaking of Turkish cities from the Allied forces. Yet, he failed to mention that the Turks had been drawn into the war by Ottoman imperial ambitions. Turkey had entered the conflict by shelling the Russian port of Odessa from the sea. It then suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Russian troops in the war’s southern theater, before the Ottoman Empire was occupied and divided by the Allies. At the time, the three cities Davutoglu named saw thousands of Armenians and other minorities slaughtered by Turkish nationalists as part of the Armenian Genocide, which Ankara denies to this day.
Alarmingly, the statement comes less than a week after Russia’s Defense Ministry warned that Turkey was preparing a military invasion of Syria and is trying to conceal illegal activity on its Syrian border.
“We have significant evidence to suspect Turkey is in the midst of intense preparations for a military invasion into Syria’s sovereign territory,” Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters in Moscow.
Konashenkov also stated that Turkey had canceled an agreed upon Russian observation flight that had been scheduled over its territory because of its illicit activities. “So if someone in Ankara thinks that the cancelation of the flight by the Russian observers will enable hiding something, then they’re unprofessional.”
Moreover, Konashenkov pointed out that Turkey has already been supplying terrorists in the Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo with manpower and weaponry.
The spokesman showed the media a photo of the Reyhanli checkpoint, saying that “through this very border crossing – mainly at nighttime – the militants, who seized the city of Aleppo and Idlib in northwestern Syria, are being supplied with arms and fighters from Turkish territory.”
The alarming new developments come as jihadi forces fighting President Bashar Assad’s army in northern Syria are suffering losses and retreating to the Turkish border.
Moscow had provided the international community earlier with video evidence that Turkish artillery had fired on populated Syrian areas in the north of Latakia Province.