Turkey has urged both the United States and Russia to refrain from acts that could further escalate tension over Syria, calling on Moscow to take effective measures to stop the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he conveyed these messages in phone calls with both U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the latter deploying his special envoy on Syria to the Turkish capital Ankara to discuss developments in the war-torn country after the alleged use of chemical weapons by Damascus.
“We have demanded sensitivity to be displayed by all coalition forces, particularly the U.S. and Russia. Current developments show the tension is likely to be easing, but our talks with our counterparts will continue,” Erdoğan told reporters after Friday prayers on April 13.
“Escalating tension is not right. We also demand that all sides [take steps to] build peace and end this tragedy in the region,” he added.
The Turkish president had phone calls with Trump on late April 11 and with Putin on April 12. He also said he received Putin’s special envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, after the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime in Douma.
“I have video footage [of the use of chemical weapons] and I gave these recordings to the special envoy or Mr. Putin,” Erdoğan said, adding that his talks with Trump were also about the use of these weapons in Douma.
“The coalition forces’ stance against the use these chemical weapons is very positive. I told him we are also very committed on this issue. As you know, we have a very tough stance against the use of chemical weapons,” he said.
However, he also stated that “more people in Syria were killed because of the use of conventional weapons and the international community should not ignore this fact.”
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also reiterated that Turkey’s “fight against terror in northern Syria will continue without stopping.”
“Our operation that began through Operation Euphrates Shield is now continuing in [the district of] Afrin. Our fight is only against terrorists and has nothing to do with an invasion. The entire world should know that,” he said.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” in Afrin on Jan. 20 against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
‘Don’t complicate things in Syria’
Also speaking on April 13, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım similarly urged international powers to “refrain from further complicating the situation in Syria.”
“The region has long paid grave costs because of civil war and migration. We are advising our friends to refrain from acts that would further complicate things,” Yıldırım told reporters, adding that Turkey strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons.
“The perpetrators should pay the price. But while doing that there should not be steps that would damage Turkey, Russia and Iran’s efforts for a lasting peace. This is our call to our friends. We are making necessary urgings to this end,” he said.