Turkey vows to attack PKK inside Syria as Damascus downplays defections
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the regime in Damascus of having "given" several areas of northern Syria to the Kurdish PKK organization and warned that Turkey could exercise its right of hot pursuit into Syria against the Kurdish rebels. "Right now, the Assad regime is stuck in Damascus and also in the Latakia region (northwest). He gave the five northern provinces to the Kurds and their terrorist organization, "said Erdogan on Wednesday night during a TV interview.
"They are now trying to create a situation consistent with their interests by displaying portraits of the leader of the separatist terrorist organization," he said, referring to the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), fighting against Ankara since 1984.
Asked about the possibility of Turkey conducting hot pursuit against insurgents across the Syrian border following possible acts by the latter in Turkish territory, Erdogan replied: "It is not even for discussion, this is obvious. It is our mission to do. "
"Besides this is part of changes to our rules of engagement (by the Turkish army)" towards Syria, he added. Turkey said it had changed the rules after the shooting down on June 22 of one of its fighter planes by Syrian air defense units.
"This is what we have done and continue to do in Iraq. If we launch from time to time air strikes against terrorist posts its within our defense needs," he said.
Erdogan said Ankara saw the opening of the PKK branch office in Syria, near the Turkish border as an act "directed against" Turkey. "There will be a response from us to this attitude," he said.
Meanwhile, Damascus on Thursday confirmed the defections of three Syrian envoys in Cyprus, United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. The regime downplayed their importance and accused Qatar of encouraging such desertions.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the defections of envoy in Cyprus, Lamia Hariri, her husband, Ambassador to UAE Abdul Latif al-Dabbagh, and the security attaché at the Syrian Embassy in the Sultanate Oman, Mohammad Tahseen al-Faqir, as reported by the Qatari satellite channel Al-Jazeera.
The statement said that these three people "have chosen to leave their workplace and travel to an Arab capital that finances and encourages such defections." The statement said the UAE ambassador "has no longer been at his post since June 4", and his wife took care of consulate issues in Cyprus until the appointment of an ambassador or commercial attaché in that country. " As for the attaché in Oman, "he had no diplomatic function and was a simple administrative employee whose mission had expired in May and was to retire, "the statement said.
In a statement on Al-Jazeera on Wednesday night, Mr. Faqir said he defected "after the intensification of killings, destruction and bombing of neighborhoods." He also criticized "the corrupt regime."
The White House said Wednesday that the defections were a further sign that the days of the regime of Bashar al-Assad are "counted".
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