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Ankara Rejects McGurk’s Statements on Turkish Links to Idleb Terror Groups

Turkey labels U.S. envoy's comments 'provocative' amid growing tensions between the two countries over American support for the Kurds
Ankara Rejects McGurk’s Statements on Turkish Links to Idleb Terror Groups

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin criticized suggestions of the American special envoy to the anti-Islamic State (ISIS) coalition, Brett McGurk, around Turkey’s connection to terrorist groups in Syria’s Idleb.

Kalin’s comments came during an interview with a local television station in which he addressed a number of issues.

The official stressed that the American envoy’s suggestions that Turkey was connected with the presence of terrorist groups in Idleb in northern Syria were “unacceptable.”

Kalin noted that Turkey is “not controlling Idleb” and that the forces that have a presence there or have forces nearby are America and Russia, in addition to the Assad regime.

He added: “The areas close to the border with Turkey have a large number of refugees, especially those evacuated from Aleppo. Turkey has worked and is still working to provide humanitarian aid to them.”

Kalin said that the area on the Turkish-Syrian border inside Syrian territory has between 1.5 million and 2 million refugees, some of whom have managed to enter Turkey.

“The crisis which erupted in Syria in 2011 is now 6 years old, and there are fundamental strategic errors in fighting the ISIS group, which did not have a presence in Syria until mid-2014,” he noted.

He went on to say that “until that time there was no one in Syria except the Bashar al-Assad regime and the opposition, and the country was not witnessing a proxy war at that time, as is the case now.”

Kalin continued, saying: “At that time we called for change to be implemented in the context of the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and to implement a political transition process in the country.

“However, the failure of the Obama administration in developing a Syria strategy, whether intentionally or not, pushed matters in the region into a very complex situation and led to the appearance of ISIS.”

Monday evening, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, Huseyin Muftuoglu, said that McGurk’s statements could be considered “provocative.”

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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