Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has criticized last week’s Israeli raid in Syria, severely questioning Damascus’ inaction on the aggression, reported Al-Hurriyet, the Turkish daily online news source.
“Why didn’t [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli jets were flying over his palace and playing with the dignity of his country?” Davutoğlu told reporters on his way to Serbian capital Belgrade for a bilateral visit.
“Why didn’t the Syrian Army, which has been attacking its own innocent people for 22 months now from the air with jets and by land with tanks and artillery fire, respond to Israel’s operation? Why can’t al-Assad, who gave order to fire Scud missiles at Aleppo, do anything against Israel?” Davutoğlu said.
According to Al-Hurriyet, Davutoğlu said Turkey did not know the precise circumstances of the raid but added that Turkey would not stay unresponsive to an Israeli attack against any Muslim country.
He accused Syria’s embattled leader of having made a secret deal with Israel. “Is there a secret agreement between al-Assad and Israel? Wasn’t the Syrian army founded to protect its country and its people against this sort of aggression? The al-Assad regime only abuses. Why don’t you use the same power that you use against defenseless women against Israel, which you have seen as an enemy since its foundation?” he said.
Syria accused Israel of having attacked a military site outside of the capital and a weapons convoy near the Lebanese border on Jan. 30.
Over the past few months, there has been much speculation surrounding the crash of a Turkish F-4 jet on June 22 near the Syrian coast. Turkey has long said the jet was struck by Syria in international waters, while Damascus has claimed that it was hit with anti-aircraft fire close to the Arab republic’s coast.
Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition leader met the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran on Saturday, opening a window to a possible breakthrough in efforts to broker an end to Syria’s civil war.
Russia and Iran have been Assad’s staunchest allies throughout the 22-month uprising, and any understandings they might reach with Assad’s foes could help overcome the two sides’ refusal to negotiate. Russia is Assad’s main arms supplier.
At an annual international security conference in Munich, Moaz al-Khatib, head of Syria’s National Coalition, held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that may have been made possible by Khatib’s signaling readiness to talk to Damascus.
“Russia has a certain vision and we welcome negotiations to alleviate the crisis, but there are many details that need to be discussed,” Khatib said after the meeting. He also said that Lavrov had invited him to visit Moscow.
Lavrov also said, “The insistence on deposing Assad is useless and it is the main reason for the perpetuation of the tragedies in Syria.”
After a 45-minute meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Khatib told Reuters: “We agreed we have to find a solution to end the suffering of the Syrian people.”
He also met separately with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.N. special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
Khatib’s purpose in his meetings was “to discuss finding a way to remove the regime with the least possible bloodshed and loss of life,” he said.
Russia has blocked three U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pushing out Assad out or pressuring him to end the civil war, in which more than 60,000 people have died. But Moscow has also tried to distance itself from Assad by saying it is not trying to prop him up and will not offer him asylum.
“The talks about Syria are intensifying and the Iranians have been drawn in. Let’s see how it all ends,” one diplomatic source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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