Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country would welcome a possible US military campaign in Syria in the wake of a suspected chemical attack in the Arab country’s northwestern province of Idlib.
Speaking in an interview broadcast live on nationwide Kanal 7 television network on Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey is ready to do its part if such onslaught takes place.
Addressing US President Donald Trump, who told some members of the US Congress Thursday that he is considering military intervention in Syria, Erdogan said, “Don’t limit yourself to comments, we need action.”
“If it truly is a matter of actions, then Turkey is ready to take its responsibilities. We will not back down,” the Turkish president added.
The Turkish leader’s comments come as the Syrian ambassador to Russia has accused Turkey of seeking to establish a city near the northern Syrian city of al-Bab, citing Turkish troops’ presence and occupation of the area.
Turkey launched an incursion into Syria on August 24, 2016, in an alleged bid to push Daesh terrorists from the border with Syria and stop the advance of forces. Damascus condemned the campaign as an act of aggression.
But on March 29, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the country’s ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ was complete, noting that any further military measures in Syria would by conducted under a different name.
In his Thursday comments, Erdogan also criticized his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for refusing to accept allegations that the Damascus government was behind the April 4 chemical incident in the town of Khan Shaykhun.
Earlier, Putin condemned as unacceptable the “unfounded accusations” about the Idlib attack, and “pointed out that it was unacceptable to make groundless accusations against anyone without conducting a detailed and unbiased investigation,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Over 80 people were reportedly killed in the suspected chemical incident in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province on Tuesday.
Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem has dismissed any accusations that the Syrian Army deployed chemical weapons in Idlib.
He told a press conference in Damascus on Thursday that foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorist groups continue stockpiling chemical weapons in the country’s urban and residential areas.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic are both investigating the Khan Shaykhun attack.
Muallem said Syria would provide the OPCW and the UN with “intelligence on the transfer of chemical substances from Iraq into Syria, or from Turkey into Syria.”