Turkey PM criticizes lack of Syria conflict strategy

Ahmet Davutoglu says international community has not shown a clear response to resolve Syrian conflict.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday criticized the international community for not showing clear responses to resolve the Syrian conflict and expressed concerns about a new influx of refugees fleeing regime attacks on Aleppo.

Speaking to reporters at the U.N. following his meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Davutoglu said the international community and the U.N. Security Council had not set a clear strategy regarding the Syrian crisis until recently.

They “didn’t have a clear response and reaction to war crimes committed by the regime, when the regime used chemical weapons against civilians, when the regime sent Scud missiles to urban areas including Aleppo,” he said.

Syria has been gripped by almost constant fighting since the regime of President Bashar al-Assad responded to anti-government protests in March 2011 with a violent crackdown, sparking a conflict that spiraled into a civil war.

The conflict has claimed nearly 210,000 lives and prompted an unprecedented refugee crisis which made Turkey the world’s largest refugee-hosting country with more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees.

Davutoglu said U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura was trying to do his best to implement a local freeze in Aleppo, but when asked about what would be “plan B” if those efforts failed, he said, “Where is the plan A, forget about the plan B.”

“Syria regime, that has been spoiled by an approach as if they were now legitimate because they were fighting against Daesh, is intensifying airstrikes against Aleppo, which may create a new flow of refugees,” he said. “We should not allow the regime to exploit the presence of Daesh and to continue to attack against Aleppo.” Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the ISIL terror group.

The security vacuum created by the Syrian conflict has also paved the way for extremist groups such as Daesh to gain a foothold in the region.

As many as 3.8 million Syrian refugees are registered in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, according to the U.N.

Davutoglu said there are concerns that hundreds of thousands of new refugees could approach Turkey if the regime attacks on Aleppo continued.

“That is the UN’s responsibility to stop this type of refugee flows and stop war crimes against the people of Aleppo and the people of Syria,” he said. On Thursday, ‘barrel bomb’ attacks by regime forces on Aleppo claimed at least 20 civilian lives, it was reported.

Davutoglu said allegations that Turkey was not doing enough regarding the Syrian crisis and the presence of Daesh is “misleading.”

“No country has been affected more than Turkey because of the Syrian crisis. We have 2 million refugees. In some cities like Kilis, Syrians outnumber the Turkish citizens. Turkey received in three days 200,000 refugees from Kobani. This is more than the total number of refugees having been taken by all European countries in the last three years,” he said.

He said that there is no state or authority on the other side of Turkey’s 800-mile (1,295-kilometer) long border with Syria and Iraq and as a result Turkey has been faced with big challenges.

“Sitting in New York or other cities and capitals and judging the situation in Turkish-Syrian and Turkish-Iraqi borders is easy. What is difficult is to understand the situation. We expect the international community to do more regarding the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Davutoglu also called on countries to cooperate more in terms of intelligence sharing to prevent Daesh from recruiting new militants.

“Turkey is receiving 35 million tourists every year. We need intelligence reports from countries who have some mobility of these groups in order to prevent them from coming to Turkey or in order to deport them,” he said. “Last year, we deported around 2,000 people from Turkey and around 10,000 were not allowed to come in Turkey. When we receive intelligence reports from our allies or other nations, it is easy to act together. This is what we need and what we expect. More cooperation and more empathy to understand difficulties,” he added.