Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed allegations that Turkey is aiding terrorist groups in Syria, saying there are attempts to show Turkey as cooperating with terrorist groups even when Turkey is fighting against terrorist groups in the region, including the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, Today's Zaman reported.
Speaking during a summit organized by the All Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TUMSIAD) in Brussels on Tuesday, Erdogan refuted allegations advanced by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was smuggling arms to Syria, especially to the terrorist groups fighting in the country, indicating that it is not possible for Turkey to cooperate with terrorist groups as it has already been fighting against them.
"Now, with the help of the 'parallel state,' there are some attempts to show Turkey as a country supporting terrorism. Turkey's efforts to transfer humanitarian aid [to Syria] have been prevented. While Turkey has been struggling with the PKK and the PYD, while it is struggling with the DHKP/C [Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front], al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, there are some efforts to show Turkey as arm-in-arm with terrorism," Erdogan said in an address to businesspeople.
His remarks came on Tuesday when media outlets reported that Syrian Kurds had declared an autonomous administration whose capital is the Syrian city of Qamishli and which is headed by Ekrem Haso.
The PYD is a political offshoot in Syria of the terrorist PKK, with which the Turkish government launched negotiations at the end of 2012 to settle the country's decades-old Kurdish issue. It also has control of a large portion of Syria's northern territory, which borders Turkey. Turkey has been expressing its concerns about a Kurdish autonomous region for a long time because it fears such a move on the Syrian side may not only adversely affect the settlement process -- launched for the resolution of the Kurdish issue in Turkey -- but also encourage Kurds in Turkey to establish an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey.
Turkish gendarmes acting on a tip discovered weapons and ammunition on a truck en route to Syria in the southern province of Hatay in early January. MİT officials allegedly tried to prevent the truck from being searched. The government later denied that the truck was carrying weapons and said it was transporting humanitarian aid for embattled Turkmens in besieged cities in northern Syria. On Sunday, according to media reports, gendarmes intercepted three Syria-bound trucks on the suspicion of carrying arms to Syrian opposition fighters in the southern province of Adana. A day later, Erdogan said that the prosecutor in question should have asked him for permission before ordering the search of the trucks.
After refuting all the allegations on Turkey's ties with terrorist groups in Syria, Erdogan said MİT transports humanitarian aid to Syria; however, some want to intercept the Syria-bound trucks or want to inspect the trucks. He stated the accusations, lies and attempts to change perceptions target Turkey's image in the outside world.
Turkey has been exposed to critical barbs on providing support and weapons to armed groups -- principally the Sunni, al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front -- in Syria. Reports circulating mainly in foreign media have alleged that before joining the war in Syria, hundreds of al-Qaeda members, particularly foreign volunteers, use apartments in Turkey's southeastern cities as safe houses, creating a flow of foreign fighters in the war-torn country. Reports also alleged that Turkey is allowing these groups in so they can help topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.