Turkish opposition leader: Gov't policy on Syria serves interests of terrorist groups

Turkish opposition leader: Gov't policy on Syria serves interests of terrorist groups

The chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıcdaroglu, has directed harsh criticism at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), saying the policy the latter has pursued on the crisis in Syria serves the interests of the terrorist al-Qaeda and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) Today`s Zaman reported

Speaking at a press conference held on Sunday to mark the 89th anniversary of the foundation of the main opposition party, Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the AK Party and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- who is also the prime minister, for its policies on the Syria issue. He asked the prime minister what led him to break his ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying, "You had a [summer] vacation with Assad. And what happened to make you an enemy of your brother Assad?"

The Turkish government initially cultivated good relations with the Assad regime, but Erdoğan has become one of Assad's harshest critics in the face of the Syrian government's continued bloody campaign against civilians and opposition forces.

"The AK Party's Syria policy is serving the purpose of al-Qaeda militants and the PKK terrorist organization. They [AK Party members] are not aware of it. They say we are pro-Baathist. It is [Erdogan] himself who had a vacation with Assad and called him 'my brother.' Whatever Assad is doing in Syria is also being done in Turkey by Erdogan," Kılıçdaroğlu stated.

The CHP leader also spoke about a huge explosion at an ammunition depot in the western province of Afyonkarahisar last week in which 25 soldiers were killed. He said the CHP would follow developments related to the explosion until all dimensions of the incident are brought to light. "Our people have not been provided satisfactory information about the [cause] of the explosion. The chief of General Staff only said everything was open and clear. If everything is so clear, so why does he not make a statement? The martyrs belong to our people and they are our sons. So, the military chief should explain everything related to the blast," Kılıcdaroglu noted.

Initial reports claimed the explosion was due to the mishandling of hand grenades by officers. State officials have said the exact cause will be determined once separate investigations by military and civilian prosecutors are completed.

Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel for receiving gifts from the Afyonkarahisar governor when he paid a visit to the Governor's Office to be informed about the deadly blast. "Twenty-five sons lost their lives in an unbelievable way. What were they [Ozel and the governor] celebrating?" the CHP leader asked.

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