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Erdogan Blasts West for Leaving Turkey to Fight IS Alone

  • Lou Lorscheider

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, May 8, 2016. "They have left us alone in our struggle" against Islamic State, he said pointing his finger at the West.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, May 8, 2016. "They have left us alone in our struggle" against Islamic State, he said pointing his finger at the West.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing Western powers who are battling Islamic State extremists in northern Syria of failing to help his government fight the jihadists on Turkish soil.

"They have left us alone in our struggle against this organization (Islamic State), which is shedding our blood both through suicide bombings" and by cross-border rocket attacks on the Turkish border town of Kilis. Erdogan spoke Sunday in Istanbul.

His remarks came a day after authorities say Turkish shelling killed 55 IS insurgents in northern Syria, in retaliation for weeks of rocket attacks that have killed more than 20 people in and near Kilis.

Military sources quoted by Reuters said Saturday's Turkish artillery fire was directed at several areas north of the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo. They say the shelling also destroyed three IS rocket installations and three vehicles.

FILE - Residents flee as rockets fired from Syria land in the Turkish town of Kilis, April 19, 2016. Turkey reportedly retaliated by killing 55 Islamic State militants.

FILE - Residents flee as rockets fired from Syria land in the Turkish town of Kilis, April 19, 2016. Turkey reportedly retaliated by killing 55 Islamic State militants.


Erdogan's complaint is the latest sign of friction between Ankara and the European Union, which has called on Turkey to reform anti-terror laws that Western analysts say are being used increasingly against the president's critics and opponents.

For his part, Erdogan insists that his country -- facing dual threats from Kurdish rebels and IS terrorism -- needs to strengthen anti-terror laws rather than curtail them.

Last week, Brussels demanded anti-terror reforms as one of five remaining conditions Ankara must meet before its citizens can become eligible for visa-free travel within the 28-nation European Union.

"They (EU envoys) say they are going to abolish visas and this is the condition," Erdogan told supporters in Istanbul. "I'm sorry, we're going our way. You go yours," he said Friday.

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