Erdogan says Hezbollah, foreign countries fighting in Syria

Arab World Materials 22 May 2013 09:28 (UTC +04:00)
Erdogan says Hezbollah, foreign countries fighting in Syria
Erdogan says Hezbollah, foreign countries fighting in Syria

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected on Tuesday criticism against his government's support for the Syrian opposition, saying that Turkey only provides "logistical support" for the opposition Today`s Zaman reported.

Speaking upon his return from a visit to the US, the prime minister said that Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and others are involved in fighting along with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and slammed his critics for turning a blind eye to that.

Erdogan's statement came as Hezbollah fighters joined the Syrian soldiers and militiamen loyal to Assad during fighting in the opposition stronghold of Qusair, a town close to the Lebanese border, on the weekend.

Erdogan's government was under fire in the past week by the Turkish opposition for pulling Turkey into the quagmire in Syria after twin car bombs killed at least 51 civilians in the district of Reyhanlı on the Syrian border. The Syrian government, along with Iran, accused Ankara of interfering in what they called Syria's "internal affairs" as Turkey continues to provide assistance to the opposition fighting to oust Assad.

"Those who describe Turkey's logistical support for the opposition as foreign intervention do not make the same comments about those who are actively fighting in Syria," he said of the domestic critics. "It is not only Hezbollah. There are others as well." He did not specify about whom he referred to and said his government's critics as well as the media should expose which countries have "agencies" operating inside Syria.

It was not immediately clear to which countries he was referring to but a number of reports indicated that Shiite fighters from Iraq and military advisers from Iran were involved in the fighting.

"If there is any armed element from Turkey in Syria, they should reveal that. Logistics support, yes, we are providing that. There is medicine and food aid we offer to the suffering people. But Turkey has never done and is not doing what Hezbollah and some countries are doing in Syria."

Hezbollah's role in the Qusair battle, its biggest military commitment yet in support of Assad, has prompted international alarm that Syria's civil war may spread to Lebanon and beyond. The United States has called urgently for restraint.

Davutoglu to attend Friends of Syria meeting in Amman

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is preparing to participate at a meeting of the Group of Friends of Syria which is due to convene in the Jordanian capital, Amman, at the level of foreign ministers on May 22.

Aimed at coordinating efforts by the international community to peacefully resolve the ongoing conflict in Syria and to establish peace and stability in the country, the meeting will also be a follow-up to the İstanbul meeting held on April 20, a statement from the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Along with Davutoglu, officials from the US, the United Kingdom, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, the UAE, Italy, Germany and France and the representatives of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) will attend the meeting to be hosted by Jordan.