President Erdogan says Turkey will protect Syrian Turkmens

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan states Ankara is determined to defend Turkmens living in Bayırbucak, north of the Syrian city of Latakia, as the Assad regime bombs the area

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan states Turkey is going to protect Syrian Turkmens who are living in Bayırbucak, north of the Syrian city of Latakia, which has recently come under heavy bombardment from Assad regime forces.

Assad regime forces and opposition fighters have engaged in heavy fighting in Syria’s northwestern Latakia province in areas close to President Bashar al Assad’s ancestral home, according to the army and opposition sources.

Syrian Turkmens have established several brigades with Syrian Turkmen Assembly to fight against the Assad regime. The Syrian Turkmen Assembly is a coalition of Turkmen parties representing Syrian Turkmens in the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the Syrian National Coalition.

Syrian Turkmens also have a brigade in Latakia’s Bayirbucak area called the Turkmen Mountain. They have fought against regime forces under heavy bombardment with only light ammunition and weapons.

Erdogan made the remarks concerning the Turkmen to Turkish journalists when he was on the way back to Turkey from a one-day tour of Germany and Belgium. Erdogan also spoke about claims that Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) is sending weapons to al-Qaeda.

He said, "Such lies against our intelligence agency are unacceptable. Those who make such claims have the obligation to prove them. At a time when Turkmens in Bayırbucak are under attack, it is unthinkable for Turkey to do nothing," according to the Daily Sabah.

He added that while MIT is fulfilling its duty, certain groups are working against duties of the organisation. Erdogan appears to be referring to the actions of local gendarmerie who stopped the MIT trucks in January 2014 in Turkey’s southern provinces of Adana and Hatay with the intention of searching for ammunition, violating a national security law which forbids such a search.

The Turkish Interior Ministry has said the trucks, which were accused of carrying ammunition into northern Syria, were conveying humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in the war-torn country.

The four prosecutors ordering the search of the MIT trucks were removed from their posts following the incident and last week they were arrested. The Turkish government accused the suspects of being members of the Gulen Movement whose members are accused of infiltrating state institutions including the judiciary, police force and bureaucracy, and forming an inner circle inside the government, operating on a hidden agenda.

Daily Sabah also reported Erdogan saying that recent advances by the Syrian opposition at the expense of the regime forces were directly connected to support the opposition forces are receiving.

“We need to secure ourselves as a country that shares a long border with Syria. We have taken the necessary measures," the President added.

Gursel Tekin, a senior main opposition party official, recently alleged Turkey will enter Syria before the upcoming elections.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rejected Tekin’s allegations.

Davutoglu crossed into Syria and visited the relocated tomb of Suleyman Shah, a 13th century Turkish commander and the grandfather of Ottoman Empire founder Sultan Osman I, on May 10.

Turkish troops entered northern Syria on Feb. 21 to relocate the historic tomb of Suleyman Shah amid a growing threat to the Turkish exclave along the Euphrates river by ISIS.

The enclave is considered sovereign Turkish territory according to the 1921 Treaty of Ankara between Turkey and France.

TRTWorld and agencies