Turkey says not siding with anyone on Syria, policy different from Iran, Russia, US

Turkish President and the leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the AK Party's parliamentary group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, Turkey on April 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 April 2018
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Turkey says not siding with anyone on Syria, policy different from Iran, Russia, US

ANKARA: Turkey does not stand with or against any country on Syria and its policy in the region is different from that of Iran, Russia and the United States, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Monday.
The comments by Bozdag, the government spokesman, were in response to a reporter’s question about an earlier remark from French President Emmanuel Macron, who said Turkey’s support of missile strikes against Syria showed it had “separated” from Russia.
The United States, Britain and France fired more than 100 missiles at Syria on Friday in a “one-time shot” the Pentagon said followed evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad was responsible for a chemical weapons attack using at least chlorine gas.
“Turkey’s Syria policy isn’t to stand with or against any country. There is no change to the policy Turkey has been carrying out,” Bozdag told reporters in Qatar.
“We do not have a united policy with the United States on the YPG issue, and Turkey’s stance has not changed. We are also against the unconditional support for the (Syrian) regime and we are at odds with Iran and Russia on this,” he said.
While Turkey is cooperating with both Russia and Iran to wind down some of the violence in Syria, Ankara has long demanded that President Bashar Assad must go and has backed rebels against him. Assad’s main supporters are Moscow and Tehran.
Turkey has also been at loggerheads with Washington over US support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish militants waging a decades-long insurgency in Turkish soil.
Turkey supported the air strikes by US, British and French forces, saying the move sent a message to Assad.
Bozdag said Turkey did not hesitate to work together with any country who defended “correct principles” on Syria.


Dozens of bodies found in Raqqa mass grave

Updated 13 min 6 sec ago
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Dozens of bodies found in Raqqa mass grave

  • Raqqa was the de facto “capital” of the Daesh group in northern Syria until the terror group was ousted by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017
  • Daesh has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations

QAMISHLI, Syria: Dozens of bodies, including those of jihadists and civilians, have been found in a mass grave in the former Daesh group stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, a local official said on Saturday.
The former de facto “capital” of the group in northern Syria, Raqqa saw the jihadists ousted by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in October 2017.
Nearly 50 bodies had already been recovered from the mass grave, which could contain up to 200 bodies, Abdallah Al-Eriane, a senior official with Raqqa Civil Council now running the city, said,
The mass grave was located under a football pitch, close to a hospital where the jihadists had dug in before being chased out of the city.
“It was apparently the only place available for burials, which were done in haste. The jihadists were holed up in the hospital,” the official said, adding that some bodies were marked with the nom de guerre of the jihadist while civilians just had first names.
In recent months, both Syria and Iraq have discovered mass graves in areas previously occupied by the jihadists.
Syrian troops uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of more than 30 people killed by Daesh in Raqqa province in February.
It followed two other similar finds by the Syrian army.
The Daesh group, which proclaimed a “caliphate” over swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, has now lost almost all the land it once controlled.
It has been held responsible for multiple atrocities during its reign of terror, including mass executions and decapitations.