PM says Turkey would respond to attack on its land in Syria

Turkey's PM Erdogan says those attacking the only Turkish territory out of its borders would face retaliation from Turkey

Turkey's PM Erdogan says those attacking the only Turkish territory out of its borders would face retaliation from Turkey

ANKARA – Turkey will retaliate in the case of an attack on the Suleiman Shah Tomb in Syria, Turkey’s only territory beyond its borders, said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a televised interview Tuesday night on domestic and foreign policy issues.

"We will do whatever is necessary in the case of a threat towards our territories," said Erdogan.

Protected by Turkish troops, the Suleyman Shah Tomb and the surrounding area are located in Aleppo's Manbij district, approximately 30 km away from the border with Turkey.

Radical Islamist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is deadlocked in intense fighting with the main armed opposition group Free Syrian Army (FSA) around the tomb, has allegedly asked Turkish troops to leave the region.

On the downing of a Syrian army aircraft by Turkish fighter jets on Sunday, Erdogan said it was in accordance with the existing engagement rules between the two countries.

Erdogan criticized Turkey’s main opposition party for its allegations that his government was trying to score a political point over the incident as Turkey prepares for local elections on March 30. Erdogan announced the air confrontation during an election rally.

"It is a national security issue but the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is criticizing us, claiming that the government had political motives in mind for the downing of the Syrian jet ahead of the local elections," said Erdogan.

On the current block on access to Twitter, Erdogan said the popular micro-blogging site was applying a double standard towards Turkey.

He said Twitter’s transparency report in 2013 showed that several Western countries had made information requests and demanded restriction of access to content and accounts during the year, and Twitter entertained these requests.

But, Erdogan said, when it came to Turkey, Twitter refused take a court order into consideration.

"The U.S. urged Twitter 679 times for action against 948 accounts and 75% of these requests have been entertained by Twitter; the German government in 2013 asked Twitter to block the neo-Nazi accounts, France in 2012 asked it to remove anti-Semitic tweets and Twitter was responsive to all these requests. British Prime Minister (David) Cameron said in 2011, amid mass protests in England, that they might resort to blocking Twitter to prevent access to provocative content. But later the protests were settled and the British government did not take action against it," Erdogan said.

Concerning reaction from EU and the U.S. on Twitter being blocked, Erdogan said he questioned what he said was their reluctance to denounce France, US and Germany for their requests.

On the solution process – aimed at solving minority issues in Turkey, particularly those related to Kurds - Erdogan said that his government was ready to listen to Kurdish politicians, while warning he would not brook no claims that would violate Turkey’s territorial integrity.

Several Kurdish politicians have earlier indicated they would seek ‘democratic autonomy’ from Turkey after the elections.

Erdogan also slammed the Gulen movement led by U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gulen for their actions within state institutions, including wiretapping thousands of people and manhandling Turkish intelligence officials when a truck they were in charge of was stopped on its way to Syria last month. 

Erdogan said, "an action targeting the intelligence service of a country is a direct threat on the national security of the respective country, and the parallel state will pay for it."

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency