Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has accused Russia of attempting to carry out “ethnic cleansing” in Syria’s northern Latakia province, which he says strengthens DAESH terrorists.
"Russia is trying to make ethnic cleansing in northern Latakia to force all Turkmen and Sunni population who do not have good relations with the regime, they want to expel them, they want to ethnically cleanse this area so that regime and Russian bases in Latakia and Tartus are protected," he told foreign reporters in Istanbul.
Davutoglu also said that Russia is bombing the town of Azaz and its surroundings in northwestern Syria, blocking supply lines of the moderate opposition and consequently helping DAESH terrorists.
Moscow-Ankara relations have been at their worst in recent memory since a Russian jet was shot down by Turkey for violating its airspace near the Syrian-Turkish border late last month.
Russia, the main ally of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, has denied that its jet violated Turkish airspace, claiming that it was shot down over Syria where Moscow has been undertaking a campaign of air strikes in support of Assad.
However, Turkey said that the plane was warned several times before it was downed.
Davutoglu told foreign journalists on Wednesday that he was “ready to work” with Russia, referring to the downing of the Russian jet.
"We are ready to work with Russia to prevent a repeat of similar incidents in the future," he said, adding that without proper coordination there will always be a risk of "accidents or unintentional confrontation" during operations conducted in Syria.