( AFP ) - Syria denied on Sunday that its President Bashar al-Assad had given his backing to any Turkish military strike against Kurdish rebels in Iraq, as tensions mounted on the Iraqi-Turkish border.
"The issue of possible Turkish military action against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was not supported by President Assad during his talks with the Turkish authorities," Information Minister Mohsin Bilal said.
He said he was "surprised that some media outlets and officials had twisted President Assad's words while he was in Turkey," according to the state SANA news agency.
During his visit to Ankara last week, Assad endorsed a possible Turkish incursion into Iraq to crack down on Kurdish rebels, describing such an operation as the country's "legitimate right".
"We support the decisions the Turkish government has put on its agenda against terrorism and terrorist activities," Assad told reporters at a news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
But on Friday, Assad told Turkish newspaper Radikal that the problem could not be solved by military means alone.
"For Syria, a political solution is the best way of addressing conflicts," Bilal said on Sunday.
" Syria and Turkey are united in combatting terrorism. They underline the right of states to protect their citizens against terrorism. It is a right guaranteed by international law," added the minister.
His comments came amid a spike in tensions between Turkey and Iraq on Sunday after 23 Kurdish rebels and 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in a fierce gunbattle in southeastern Turkey, close to the border.