Er­do­gan ac­cuses West of back­ing IS

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Ankara

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan on Tues­day said the West was break­ing prom­ises in Syria, ac­cus­ing Ankara’s part­ners of back­ing “ter­ror groups” in­clud­ing Is­lamic State in the coun­try.

US State Depart­ment spokesman Mark Toner called the ac­cu­sa­tions “lu­di­crous”, say­ing there was no ba­sis for them.

At least 37 Turk­ish sol­diers have died in Tur­key’s mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion in­side Syria since it was launched in August to back pro-Ankara Syr­ian fight­ers bat­tling the IS and Kur­dish mili­tia.

Ca­su­al­ties have mounted as the mil­i­tary seeks to take the town of Al-Bab from the ji­hadists and Ankara has be­come more im­pa­tient over the lack of sup­port from the US-led coali­tion against the ex­trem­ists for the Turk­ish op­er­a­tion.

“The coali­tion forces are un­for­tu­nately not keep­ing their prom­ises,” Er­do­gan said at a news con­fer­ence along­side vis­it­ing Guinean Pres­i­dent Al­pha Conde.

“Whether they do or they don’t, we will con­tinue along this path in a de­ter­mined way. There is no go­ing back on the path we have set out on,” he added.

Tur­key has met the fiercest re­sis­tance of the cam­paign in the fight for Al-Bab, 25 kilo­me­ters south of the Turk­ish bor­der.

Er­do­gan com­plained that rather than sup­port­ing Tur­key, the West was back­ing the Kur­dish Peo­ples’ Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) and Demo­cratic Union Party (PYD), who work with the United States on the ground in Syria, and also the IS.

“They are sup­port­ing all the ter­ror groups — the YPG, PYD but also in­clud­ing the IS,” Er­do­gan said.

“It’s quite clear, per­fectly ob­vi­ous. We have con­firmed ev­i­dence, with pic­tures, pho­tos and videos,” he said.

Er­do­gan had made a sim­i­lar claim on a visit to Pak­istan last month al­leg­ing that “the West stands by the IS right now” and its weapons were Western-made.

But the Turk­ish leader ex­pressed con­fi­dence over the assault say­ing “we now have the Daesh ter­ror group sur­rounded on four sides in Al-Bab”. Daesh is the Ara­bic acro­nym for the IS.

“Yes we have mar­tyrs, ... but now there’s no turn­ing back,” he said.

Er­do­gan made no men­tion of a video pur­port­edly show­ing two Turk­ish sol­diers be­ing burned to death by IS in Syria.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nu­man Kur­tul­mus said ear­lier there was no in­for­ma­tion con­firm­ing the video.

Er­do­gan said that along with Rus­sia, Tur­key backed a plan to bring the par­ties in the con­flict to­gether with key pow­ers for peace talks in the Kazakh cap­i­tal As­tana.

But he said that “ter­ror groups” must not be in­cluded and that Tur­key also wanted to see its Gulf al­lies Saudi Ara­bia and Qatar in­volved.

It’s quite clear, per­fectly ob­vi­ous. We have con­firmed ev­i­dence, with pic­tures, pho­tos and videos.” Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan,

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