Turkey denounces 'barbaric' Russian bombings in Syria
Ankara: Turkey yesterday denounced Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria as "barbaric", saying the assault had killed civilians including children and the elderly.
People gather around the rubble of a hospital supported in Syria after the building was hit by Russian air strikes. Pic/AFP
"Those vile, cruel and barbaric planes have made close to 8,000 sorties since September 30 without any discrimination between civilians and soldiers, or children and the elderly," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in parliament.
Tensions between Turkey and Russia have soared over Moscow’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s air campaign against what it claims are "terrorist" targets in the country.
Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu delivers a speech at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara yesterday. Pic/AFP
Turkey has long backed Assad’s ouster and like other Western nations accuses Russia of predominantly bombing Syrian rebel groups backed by Washington and its allies instead of the Islamic State group.
Assad’s forces have most recently used Russian air support to move ever closer to the rebel stronghold of Aleppo in northern Syria, which alarmed Ankara that Syrian Kurdish militia could take control of the region near the Turkish border.
Ankara considers the PYD and its YPG militia to be branches of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.
Turkish artillery has struck Syrian Kurdish targets since the weekend. Russia has described Turkey’s shelling of Kurdish and Syrian regime positions in the north of the country as a "provocative" action.
Davutoglu yesterday accused Kurdish fighters of being "Russia’s legion working as mercenaries" with a priority aim of harming Turkey’s interests.