Turkey PM: Israeli Strikes in Syria 'Unacceptable,' Only Bolster Assad Regime

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After several days of silence from Ankara, Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan levied public criticism of Israel's alleged strikes in Syria on Tuesday, claiming they only bolster Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

"The air strike Israel carried out on Damascus is completely unacceptable. There is no rationale, no pretext that can excuse this operation," Erdogan said at a conference of his AKP Party in the Turkish Parliament.

He went on to say it provides "opportunities offered on a golden tray to Assad and to the illegitimate Syrian regime," covering up massacres he is waging against his people by using the Israeli raids as a pretext.

Notwithstanding Erdogan's criticism, his statements were relatively moderate. He did not claim as in the past that the Israel Air Force operations contradict international law or constitute war crimes, but only that he doubts their utility.
The Turkish government in general and Erdogan in particular avoided relating to Israel's alleged strikes in Syria for four days. It is possible he only spoke about it today as the second round of reconciliation between Israel and Turkey are taking place in Jerusalem today.

The Prime Minister's Office announced following the end of talks Monday that the parties had produced a joint draft, "however a few clarifications are still necessary on several topics." Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arnc said "the reparations amount has yet to be finalized, but the criteria according to which they will be calculated has been."

A senior official in Prime Minister Netanyahu's office said the two sides expect to reach a final agreement in the coming days. The Turks want to show progress in its talks with Israel before Prime Minister Erdogan heads to Washington on May 16.

It appears another round of negotiations will not be necessary and the next meeting will be for the purpose of signing the agreement. Immediately following the signing, the two sides will agree on a date to reinstate ambassadors in Tel Aviv and Ankara, as well as additional steps in normalizing relations between the two countries.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament in Ankara on May 7, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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