Erdogan: Israeli strikes in Syria unjustified

Turkish prime minister says alleged Israeli strikes allow Assad opportunity to cover up genocide in Syria.

turkish PM Erdogan 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )
turkish PM Erdogan 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer )
Despite having repeatedly spoken out against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said that alleged Israeli air raids in Syria were “unacceptable.”
“The air strike Israel carried out on Damascus is completely unacceptable. There is no rationale, no pretext that can excuse this operation,” Erdogan told members of his AKP faction.
“These attacks are chances, opportunities offered on a golden tray to Assad and to the illegitimate Syrian regime. Using the Israel attack as an excuse, he is trying to cover up the genocide in Banias,” he said.
Erdogan was referring to a Syrian coastal town where anti- Assad activists said at least 62 people were killed by government fighters over the weekend.
According to a report in the Turkish daily Today’s Zaman on Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected a report in Britain’s Sunday Times that stated Turkey agreed to join three Arab countries and Israel to set up an early warning system to detect Iranian-ballistic missiles.
Syria’s SANA news agency responded to Erdogan’s criticism on Monday, quoting a media source as stating, “Erdogan’s courage is evident in sending chemical weapons to terrorists and car bombs to Syria, not to mention training the extremist terrorists who are committing crimes and destroying holy tombs and stealing factories.”
The source also said that the Turkish people have to hold Erdogan and his gang to account.
The Arab League, Lebanon and Egypt condemned the reported attacks on Syria on Sunday. The League called for the UN Security Council to act to stop “Israel’s aggression,” according to AFP. It said the attacks were a “dangerous violation of an Arab state’s sovereignty.”
Following suit, the Syrian opposition condemned the air strikes. Israel had “taken advantage” of the conflict, the Syrian National Coalition said, AFP reported.
Erdogan had previously remained silent on the alleged air strikes, instead focusing his ire on Assad following two separate massacres by regime forces over the weekend.
“If God permits, we will see this criminal, this murderer, receive his judgment in this world and we will be grateful to [God] for it,” Turkish daily Hurriyet quoted Erdogan as saying Sunday.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu mocked Damascus for not responding to the reported attacks, saying on Sunday, “Why doesn’t it [Syria] throw even a pebble [at Israel]?” Israeli officials said the air strikes on Friday and Sunday were not directed at Assad’s regime, but only at stopping Iranian missiles from reaching the Hezbollah terrorist organization.
According to foreign media reports, the Israel Air Force struck storage facilities near Damascus housing Iranian Fateh-110 missiles destined for Hezbollah overnight Sunday for the second time in 48 hours, sending flames and the sounds of blasts throughout the city.
Yaakov Lappin and Reuters contributed to this report.