Erdogan welcomes Western attack on Syria
ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan welcomed US, British and French forces’ airstrikes on Syria, saying that the operation sent a message to Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.
“With the joint operation by US, U.K. and France on Saturday, the Syrian regime received the message that its massacres wouldn’t be left unanswered,” Erdogan told his ruling AK Party supporters in an Istanbul meeting.
“The innocent Syrian people should have been defended long ago,” Erdogan added.
In a statement, the Turkish foreign ministry said the US-led operation “has eased humanity’s conscience in the face of” the suspected chemical attack.
“The Syrian regime, which has been tyrannising 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,” it said.
“The conscience of the international community is in no doubt about that.”
The United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of pre-dawn strikes against the Assad regime Saturday in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed “dozens of civilians” on April 7.
Erdogan said he had a “sleepless night” as he monitored all the developments.
“It is not possible for us to approve the situation encountered by (Syrian) babies as a result of the use of chemicals weapons,” he said.
“Whoever the perpetrators they should pay a price.”
Erdogan, who had a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May following the strikes, said he would also speak with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Turkish leader told May his country “clearly condemned” the use of chemical weapons since the very beginning, in a call with the British premier, a Turkish presidential source said.
He said the only way to long-lasting peace in Syria was a “political solution,” the source added. The Turkish leader also emphasised the importance of de-escalating the tension in the region.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the strikes had not been launched via Turkey’s southern Incirlik air base.
“Turkey was informed ahead of the attack,” he wrote on Twitter. “The Incirlik base was not used in the attack.”