Syria hits back after Turkey's Erdogan calls Assad a 'terrorist'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reignited a war of words with the president of neighboring Syria, calling ...

Posted: Dec 28, 2017 4:19 PM
Updated: Dec 28, 2017 4:19 PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reignited a war of words with the president of neighboring Syria, calling him a "terrorist" who has no place in negotiations over the country's future.

The insults directed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad came as aid workers evacuated the first of 29 people who had been trapped in the besieged Syrian region of Eastern Ghouta.

Turkey's Erdogan, Assad's government trade barbs

Words come amid first evacuations from besieged Eastern Ghouta

Previously, Erdogan had said that around 500 people -- including 170 women and children -- required "urgent humanitarian aid," according to Turkey's TRT and Russia's Sputnik news agencies.

Assad had repeatedly refused aid into the enclave and evacuations out of Eastern Ghouta. It's one of Syria's last rebel strongholds, but it has been under siege by regime forces for more than four years.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said it was "absolutely impossible" to move ahead on Syrian peace talks while Assad remains in power, according to Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu.

Erdogan made the comments after a closed-door meeting with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in Tunis where he's on an official visit.

Trading barbs

Erdogan called Assad, who has grimly clung to power during the protracted conflict that has wracked his nation for the past seven years, "a terrorist involved in state terrorism." He asked how anyone could "embrace the future with the president of a Syria who killed close to one million of its citizens."

Syria's Foreign Ministry shot back at the remarks, accusing Erdogan of being "responsible" for spilling the blood of the Syrian people, according to a statement released by Syrian state-run news agency SANA.

"The entry of the Turkish forces to the Syrian territory reveals one image of the Turkey's support to takfiri terrorism," SANA said.

The statement slammed what it characterized as Erdogan's "paranoia and illusions of the past," which "made him forget that his old empire has vanished and that the free people of the world have the choice to make their national decisions and defend their sovereignty and they will not allow Erdogan to interfere in their affairs."

The US has also said a peaceful solution in Syria is not possible while Assad remains in power. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, while the US was "on guard against Russian aggression," the US was willing to work with Russia where "mutual interests intersect."

"Nowhere is that more evident than in Syria," he said.

"Now that President Vladimir Putin has committed to the United Nations-backed Geneva political process for providing a new future for Syria, we expect Russia to follow through. We are confident that the fulfillment of these talks will produce a Syria that is free of Bashar al-Assad and his family," he said.

Uncertain future

Russia, Iran and Turkey have been working to bring together warring factions in Syria and end hostilities that have dragged on for seven years.

At the end of January, Moscow will host talks involving "all segments of Syrian society" -- including Kurdish representatives, which Turkey opposes -- at an international meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Assad for the first since 2015 in the same Russian city to discuss the future of Syria. At the time, Putin said Assad had expressed his commitment to finding a peaceful solution and new elections.

Putin and his government have been one of the chief supporters of the Assad regime, both militarily and in helping to negotiate ceasefires in the country's long-running civil war.

Opinion: 10 questions that could keep you up at night in 2018

Evacuations from Eastern Ghouta

On Wednesday, aid agencies began evacuating the first patients who've been trapped in Eastern Ghouta, part of four de-escalation zones negotiated by the Russian, Iranian and Turkish governments in May.

Assad's government has accused rebel groups there of using civilians as human shields, and has refused to allow access to the embattled suburb.

Earlier this week, Erdogan was quoted by Turkish and Russian state media as Turkish and Russian chiefs of staff would work together to carry out the evacuation of hundreds of people who in need of urgent aid, TRT reported.

Since the war began in 2011, an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed, according to the United Nations. Assad has ruled Syria as President since July 2000.

The ongoing violence against civilians has been condemned by the Arab League, the European Union, the United States and other countries.

As of March 2017, more than 5 million Syrians have fled the country and 6.3 million people are displaced internally.

West Lafayette
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 67°
Kokomo
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 65°
Rensselaer
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Fowler
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
Frankfort
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 65°
Delphi
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 67°
Monticello
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Logansport
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Active Weather Pattern for the Work Week.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74992

Reported Deaths: 3044
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15963725
Lake7632275
Elkhart488385
Allen3937163
St. Joseph354682
Hamilton2803104
Vanderburgh199713
Hendricks1901108
Cass17969
Johnson1767118
Porter133839
Clark124447
Tippecanoe122111
Madison98765
LaPorte92130
Howard90565
Kosciusko86212
Bartholomew80147
Floyd79146
Marshall79022
Monroe75930
Delaware73852
Dubois70012
Noble68429
Boone68346
Hancock67038
Vigo66810
Jackson5885
Warrick58630
LaGrange55910
Shelby55827
Grant52830
Dearborn50828
Morgan48334
Clinton4403
Henry38520
Wayne37710
White37210
Montgomery35421
Lawrence35027
Harrison34123
Decatur33832
Putnam2908
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25134
Jasper2452
Franklin24314
DeKalb2354
Gibson2284
Jennings22612
Steuben2113
Ripley2087
Carroll1932
Fayette1907
Perry18612
Starke1787
Posey1770
Orange17324
Wells1712
Wabash1703
Fulton1692
Jefferson1652
Knox1590
Whitley1546
Tipton14311
Washington1421
Spencer1363
Sullivan1341
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1234
Newton11810
Adams1022
Jay920
Owen911
Pulaski831
Rush804
Brown741
Fountain742
Blackford652
Ohio655
Benton620
Pike560
Vermillion550
Parke521
Switzerland520
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren231
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events