President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday an apology was not enough to solve the NATO enemy chart problem, and added that NATO’s credibility was now dubious.
“Yesterday, you have witnessed the impudence at NATO exercise in Norway. The credibility of NATO has become questionable in the eyes of all member states. Some mistakes are not made by fools but by scum. The disrespectful behavior at the NATO drill cannot be solved with a simple apology,” Erdoğan said.
"I understand this impudence that targets me and founder of our republic Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as a reflection of a distorted point of view that we observe in NATO for a while," the president added.
Turkish officials have slammed the incident during a NATO drill in Norway. Turkey withdrew from the Trident Javelin exercise after a civilian Norwegian official depicted Erdoğan as an "enemy collaborator" during a bloc exercise.
On Friday, Erdoğan told ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) Party members in capital Ankara that a portrait of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was also shown in the ‘hostile leader list’ during the computer-assisted exercise.
A Norwegian national was removed from the exercise as a consequence of the incident, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen have apologized to Turkey.
Deputy PM slams NATO enemy chart
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Saturday Turkey strongly condemned the enemy chart incident at a NATO drill in Norway.“We strongly condemn those who conducted this dishonorable action. NATO’s apology is important, but I believe they also have some responsibility in the incident. All necessary actions should be taken regarding those who did this,” Bozdağ said.Bozdağ added that there is an “international cooperation” against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan."This [international cooperation] reached a level that gave a soldier courage to show the founder and current leader of a NATO country as an enemy target during an exercise," said Bozdağ speaking to reporters in southeastern Şırnak."Until now NATO has not seen a scandal like this. Neither did the world," Bozdağ said, adding that NATO should take necessary steps that will prevent such incidents in the future.Turkey to monitor legal proceedings over NATO incidentBozdağ welcomed the removal of those responsible from the incident and the apology of NATO secretary-general. However, he added that those who run NATO also have responsibility to take.A Norwegian national was removed from the exercise as a consequence of the incident. Erdoğan was depicted as an “enemy collaborator” during the drill."There was an incident in Norway," Erdogan told ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party members in Ankara on Friday."They used an enemy chart in Norway. In that chart, there was my name and [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk's picture."Norway apologizes to Turkey over NATO drill incidentImmediately after the incident, Turkey withdrew from the Trident Javelin exercise, Erdoğan announced.Following the incident, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has apologized to Turkey. In a written statement, Stoltenberg said: "I apologize for the offense that has been caused. The incidents were the result of an individual’s actions and do not reflect the views of NATO."Stoltenberg’s statement said that the individual in question "was immediately removed from the exercise by the Joint Warfare Centre, and an investigation is underway"."He was a civilian contractor seconded by Norway and not a NATO employee. It will be for the Norwegian authorities to decide on any disciplinary action," he also said.Stoltenberg added that Turkey is a "valued NATO Ally, which makes important contributions to Allied security."Polish Maj. Gen. Andrzej Reudowicz, the commander of the Joint Warfare Center (JWC) in Stavanger, Norway where the exercise took place, has also issued a letter of apology over the incidents, according to the anonymous NATO official.
“The reaction put forward when we attempted to purchase the S-400 from Russia to defend our own security confirms this fallacy. I would like to call out to all our NATO allies. We bought the S-400 system. We are currently discussing financing. We will not allow anyone to threaten us with their technology,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey has "completed" the purchase of the S-400 air-defense system from Russia, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Nov. 11.
The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system and can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.
“Those who are trying to limit Turkey in the international arena by supporting terrorist organizations against us in Syria and Iraq. How can we believe those who say that they are fighting terrorism?” Erdoğan said.
Turkey says purchase of S-400 from Russia 'completed'
Turkey has "completed" the purchase of the S-400 air-defense system from Russia, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Saturday.The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system and can carry three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.It can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles)."In addition to the S-400, Turkey also made preliminary agreements with the Eurosam countries to develop, produce and use the air defense system in order to improve its long-term domestic national capacity," Canikli told reporters in the Black Sea province of Giresun."We especially aim to have our own technology," the minister added.In recent years, Turkey has sought to build its domestic defense industry to reduce reliance on foreign suppliers.On Wednesday, a letter of intent was signed between Turkey, France and Italy to develop an anti-ballistic missile.Under the pact, Turkey’s defense industry and the Franco-Italian consortium will work together to determine needs and priorities for the potential joint production of a SAMP-T anti-ballistic missile system.Along with Canikli, French Defense Minister Florence Parly and Italian Defense Minister Robert Pinotti attended the signing ceremony.
Turkey will save Syria's Idlib and Manbij
“We will save Syria’s Idlib. We will also clear Manbij and deliver it to its rightful owners. We will save Afrin. We will eliminate all terror threats to Turkey in Iraq’s Qandil. We will work to prevent a quarrel among brothers in the Gulf,” said Erdoğan.
Erdogan has previously said that Afrin would be on Ankara's agenda after its current operation in Syria's Idlib province, where Turkey and Russia have set up observation points under a "de-escalation" deal reached by Ankara, Moscow and Tehran to ease the bloodshed in the six-year-old Syrian conflict.
Turkish troops will be deployed to strategic points in Idlib, near its border with Afrin and Manbij, to monitor the region to prevent clashes between Syrian opposition fighters and Assad regime forces as well as outline a plan for an upcoming operation in the other two areas. The Turkish military has already established six observation posts across Idlib.
Turkish presidential aide slams US over PKK-Daesh deal
President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan’s aide on Friday criticized the U.S. over a deal between PKK/PYD and Daesh terrorist groups.The recent deal allowed hundreds of Daesh terrorists to escape besieged Syrian city of Raqqah. BBC reported last Monday that a huge convoy consisting of around 50 trucks, 13 buses and more than 100 Daesh vehicles left Raqqah for Daesh-controlled territory to the southeast.“The disturbing question no one in Washington wants to ask is who will stop these released terrorists from becoming the next suicide bombers in a major world capital,” Ibrahim Kalın, presidential aide, wrote on Friday.Kalın, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman, expressed his views in a column, headlined “Syria: What is next?”“The details of the deal they struck to let hundreds of Daesh terrorists out of Raqqa show once again the utter poverty of the policy of having one terrorist organization fight another,” Kalın said.US involved in fight on the ground in Syria alongside YPG terrorists, says ErdoğanThe PYD and its military YPG wing are Syrian branches of the PKK, which has waged war against Turkey for more than 30 years.Since the PKK launched its terror campaign in Turkey in 1984, tens of thousands of people have been killed, including more than 1,200 since July 2015 alone.The U.S. and the coalition have largely ignored the PYD/PYG links to the PKK, which the U.S., EU, and Turkey list as a terrorist group.US media silent on US support of PKK/PYD-Daesh dealKalın also emphasized that Syria should not have a place for the Assad regime in the future.“As far as Russians and Iranians are concerned, they should realize that keeping Assad in power is not the way to protect their interests in Syria”, Kalın said.He added that these issues will be addressed on Wednesday at a trilateral summit of presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani in Russia’s Sochi as an extension of Astana talks.Turkey and Russia, together with Iran, are the guarantor countries who brokered a cease-fire in Syria in December 2016 leading to the Astana, Kazakhstan talks, which are being held in parallel to UN-backed discussions in Geneva to find a political solution to the six-year conflict.The eighth round of Astana talks is expected to be held in the second half of December.
PKK/PYD chemical weapons threaten 6 mln civilians in Turkey
Millions of civilians in Turkey’s border regions are under threat after the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has come under possession of chemical weapons provided by the Assad regime, according to a defected Syrian General. Speaking exclusively to Yeni Şafak, former Syrian Brig. Gen. Zaher al-Sakat and once the Assad regime’s chemical weapons chief before defecting and joining the ranks of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), stated that the regime had provided PKK terrorists with weaponized Mustard gas. PKK/PYD terrorists, who control a large stretch of land across the border from Turkey, are in procession of 100 missiles equipped with chemical agents, which threatens six millions civilians in Turkey, as the terrorists relocate to dozens of positions adjacent to the border. Civilians in the Turkish cities of Kilis, İslahiye, Krıkhan, Akçakale, Karkamış, Suruç and Elbeyli, among others, are within striking distance of the chemically-equipped missiles that will be launched by PKK/PYD terrorists. This threat alone may prompt the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) to launch a cross-border operation targeting PKK terrorists positions in Afrin, Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad and all other PKK-occupied border regions.Alliance gathered in HasakahFollowing their defeat in Iraq, the Brazani-PKK-U.S.-Israel alliance gathered the leaders of the terror organizations in Syria’s Hasakah, and informed them of their decision to make 2018 the year when a large-scale war will be launched against Turkey, and ordered everyone to prepare accordingly. Once Daesh is defeated, U.S.-backed terror leaders will wage a new war against Turkey that will last at least five years, using weapons provided by the U.S. to PKK/PYD terrorists.Among the decision made during the Hasakah meeting was a wide-scale change in administrative ranks, as the terror organization transforms itself from a guerilla militia to a regular army. In the case of an attack by Turkey, this shift would enable PKK terrorists to control and move freely across the border stretching from Qandil in Iraq, all the way to Syria’s Qamishli, as terror elements will be able to hold and carry out missions in the region.'PKK provided with chemical weapons to use against Turkey’
'Turkey has evidence of US arming terror groups'
Turkey will "soon" share evidence that the United States has supplied the PKK/PYD terrorist organization with arms, the country's foreign minister said Friday. Speaking to foreign media representatives in Istanbul, Mevlut Cavusoglu said the U.S. "is repeating a mistake" with the approval of secret cooperation between the Daesh and PKK/PYD terrorist groups in Syria. A recent PKK/PYD deal to allow hundreds of Daesh terrorists to escape Raqqa has received a strong reaction from Turkey. Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon on Tuesday defended the deal, saying it was part of a "local solution to a local issue". But Cavusoglu warned that "YPG [PKK/PYD] is gaining more and more territory, which is a very risky development". Referring to the "good cooperation between YPG and Daesh - between two terrorist organizations,” he said: "Nobody denies it. We have been telling our U.S. allies and others in the coalition that there is no difference between YPG and the PKK and that YPG is not fighting for freedom or the unity of the country but fighting to gain more territory in the country." Criticizing the U.S. for not keeping its promise that PKK/PYD forces would withdraw from Raqqa, he said: "They have not been able to pull back YPG from any town... Now, you see the statement which said they would continue to work with YPG." "We are going to share soon the photos and evidence showing weapons that the U.S. has been giving to YPG and also weapons made in other coalition states, including Germany." - Afrin: a serious threat As for the northwestern Syrian province of Afrin, the minister said there were also terrorists in the region which targeted Turkey. "They attack our security personnel, and they are using the weapons given by some countries in the coalition," he said. "Afrin poses a serious threat to our national security. So wherever there are terrorists, we need to eliminate them." The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are reportedly planning to set up 12 observation and security points in Idlib as part of the Astana peace process while preparing to extend the operation to Afrin and Manbij. Turkish troops will be deployed to strategic points in Idlib, near its border with Afrin and Manbij, to monitor the region to prevent clashes between Syrian opposition fighters and Assad regime forces as well as outline a plan for an upcoming operation in the other two areas. The Turkish military has already established six observation posts across Idlib. Cavusoglu said the main role of the observers was to find out "who is violating the ceasefire". "It is not an easy task," he said. "We need to identify all the radical groups and we need to eliminate them." The minister also shared that Turkey had stopped and deported more than 5,000 foreign fighters in the past 4-5 years. Around 3,000 others are under arrest in Turkey, he said. - Upcoming Syria talks in Sochi On the Astana talks, Cavusoglu said: "We have been cooperating with Russia and we made a lot of progress." "It has been a transparent process," he said. "Russia did a great job there. Turkey also has been a main actor and Iran also contributed. We agreed to make an assessment of the achievements." Cavusoglu said both Turkey and Russia supported a political solution and the territorial integrity of war-torn Syria. He underlined the need for "a transition period" during which he said all sides should be united. The foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Iran will meet in Turkey's Mediterranean city of Antalya on the weekend ahead of a trilateral meeting on Syria in Russia’s Sochi city next Wednesday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take part in the meeting in the Russian resort on Nov. 22 as well as his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The three guarantor countries will discuss the progress on reducing violence in Syria and de-escalation zones which were established after the Astana talks. - Relations with the U.S. Asked about bilateral relations between Turkey and the U.S., the minister said: "Overall, I cannot say that I am very much disappointed with Mr. Trump." However, he added that the U.S. policy towards PKK/PYD "has unfortunately not changed".The PKK/PYD is considered by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization that has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state, causing some 40,000 deaths. The U.S. and the coalition have largely ignored PYD/PYG links to the PKK, which the U.S., EU, and Turkey lists as a terrorist group.Also reminding about another problem between the two states - the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, the minister said: "We requested his extradition, and we have submitted all the evidence that he was behind the failed coup ... Meanwhile, we requested (his) temporary arrest and a full investigation." He said none of the demands were met. "OK, extradition might take some time, but we needed to see the investigation. "Gulen has been threatening us from there and still is free enjoying everything," he said. FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016 which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary. Cavusoglu stated that there were many reports that FETO had violated and infiltrated the American system. "It is very interesting that there is no investigation of him," he said. The minister also talked about the arrest of a local employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul over alleged ties to FETO. Following his arrest, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced the suspension of non-immigrant visa services to Turkish nationals. A month later, the embassy announced visa applications were being processed on a limited basis at its diplomatic missions in Turkey. The U.S. had claimed the decision to resume visa services came after Turkey’s assurance that no additional local employees of the U.S. mission would be investigated, detained or arrested. Cavusoglu said: "We did not give any assurance. They asked whether there was another investigation and we said no." Also touching on Turkish businessman Riza Sarraf, who has been in jail in the U.S. pending trial, the minister said Turkey sent a second diplomatic note on Wednesday to the U.S. asking it to clarify Sarraf’s condition following some media reports. He was arrested last year on fraud and Iran sanctions-related charges. "When you look at the indictment of Mr. Sarraf, it is also a FETO-motivated one. This is for sure." Cavusoglu said FETO could not "succeed in the coup" and is now "trying to get U.S. support". Underlining the importance of keeping the dialogue channels open, he said: "I am sure we will overcome our bilateral issues through dialogue."
Assad regime shelling kills 7 civilians in E.Ghouta
At least seven civilians have been killed in regime shelling in the Eastern Ghouta region east of the capital Damascus, pro-opposition Syrian civil defense sources said.The sources told Anadolu Agency that intense regime shelling left five children, a woman, and a man dead in Douma city.A number of injured people were transferred to nearby medical points.According to eyewitnesses, regime airstrikes and shelling hit also the town of Arbin and the villages of Zamalka, Hamouriyah, and Medira.Eastern Ghouta has recently witnessed intense shelling by the Assad regime that has reportedly left 70 people dead.Although Eastern Ghouta falls within a network of de-escalation zones in which acts of aggression are expressly forbidden, regime forces have repeatedly attacked the district this week, leaving dozens of civilians dead or injured.Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating civil war that began in early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Cease-fire in Syria’s E. Ghouta ‘over’, observers say
A cease-fire in Syria's Eastern Ghouta district, a suburb of Damascus, is “effectively over” following repeated attacks by the Assad regime, according to Anadolu Agency correspondents based in the area.For the last five years, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling regime siege.The district was recently designated a “de-escalation zone” -- in which acts of aggression are expressly forbidden -- following an agreement between Russia and Iran (which support the regime) and Turkey (which supports Syria’s armed opposition).Despite this designation, however, at least 70 people have reportedly been killed within the last three weeks alone amid stepped-up attacks by the Assad regime.In response to the attacks, which remain ongoing, armed opposition groups in Eastern Ghouta have repeatedly clashed with regime forces.Since Friday morning, Eastern Ghouta’s Duma and Arbin neighborhoods -- along with the towns of Madyara, Hamuriyyah and Zamalka -- have been repeatedly targeted by regime airstrikes and artillery barrages.In a Friday statement, Duma’s main civil-defense center said seven civilians, including five children, had been killed in the neighborhood on Friday alone.Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating civil war that began in early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.