Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numaan Kurtulmus sought to downplay last week’s invasion of northern Syria in comments today, insisting that Turkey is “not entering a war” in Syria, and “is not an occupying country.”
Kurtulmus went on to say that Turkey informed Russia of their intention to enter Syria, and that “we are sure” that Russia informed the Syrian government about that, meaning that Syria’s government was fully aware of what was happening.
Turkish forces entered the city of Jarabulus last week, expelling ISIS from the area. They have since fought primarily against US-backed Kurdish forces in the vicinity, and despite officials previously insisting that Turkey was prepared to remain in Syria as long as they felt was necessary, Kurtulmus insisted that they have no intention of being a ‘permanent” presence.
Turkey has faced considerable international criticism for targeting the Kurds in Syria, though EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik today insisted no nation has any right to tell Turkey “which terrorist organization to fight against and which one to ignore.” Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted they consider the Syrian Kurds and ISIS to be equal problems.