By Leyla Amur, TurkeyTurkish officials have responded to the US missile strike on an air base in Syria early Friday morning, overwhelmingly coming out in support of the attack.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the military strike was a “positive step”, yet it was “not enough”. He continued by saying, “The time has come for us to take the steps toward taking effective and serious steps in protecting the oppressed Syrian people in every aspect,” he said at a rally in Turkey’s southern district of Hatay, a city by Syria border.
While talking to the press on Friday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu stated that the Assad regime in Syria must be held accountable for repeated chemical attacks.
“It’s for this reason that we support the US’ intervention. We say to those in support of such a regime, let’s ensure the national unity and integrity in Syria, let’s focus on finding a political solution and brokering a ceasefire, not stand behind one person,” Çavuşoğlu said in a press conference.
Çavuşoğlu went onto say that Turkey and members of the US-led coalition were informed of the attack before it was carried out.
Meeting during US Secretary of State Tillerson with Turkish FM in Ankara
The US military strike, which reportedly resulted in death of nine civilians, was conducted at the al-Shairat air field close to Homs in response to what President Donald Trump referred to as a “horrible chemical weapons attack” on Tuesday.
Turkey’s support for the US operations comes at a time when relations between the two countries have been strained over American support for the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) – an organization that the Turkish government considers a terrorist group – in the fight against ISIS.
Another point of contention is the extradition over Fetullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric residing in the US who Turkey claims is the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and responsible for the July 15 coup attempt.
Turkey’s warming relations with Russia also going through another test following the US strikes into Syrian military airbase. While Russia condemns the U.S., Turkey is saying “it is not enough” and even asking Washington to remove the Assad regime. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during his visit to Ankara told “longer status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people” while Turkish Foreign Minister chose not to comment on the matter. Tillerson said last night, Assad cannot govern Syrian people, 180 degree of change.