US condemns Turkey’s ‘inflammatory comments’ on Syria

Washington says FM Davutoglu’s call for Syria to retaliate for alleged Israeli airstrike doesn’t help resolve civil war

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attends a press conference in Davos, Switzerland in December 2012. (photo credit: AP/Michel Euler)
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attends a press conference in Davos, Switzerland in December 2012. (photo credit: AP/Michel Euler)

The US State Department on Tuesday said it lodged a complaint with Ankara for inflammatory statements made Saturday by the Turkish foreign minister calling on Syria to retaliate against last week’s alleged Israeli strike.

Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the US was very troubled by the “inflammatory comments” made by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday.

Davutoglu asked reporters on Saturday en route to a conference in Munich, “Why didn’t [Syrian President Bashar] Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli jets were flying over his palace and playing with the dignity of his country?”

Davutoglu suggested that the Syrian leader is conspiring with Israel: “Is there a secret agreement between Assad and Israel? The 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, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also reacted to the strike, calling it a act of state-sponsored terrorism.

“We have in the last 24 hours conveyed our concerns on this matter with senior Turkish officials,” Nuland said. “Our view here is that all of us need to keep our eye on the ball, which is to get the violence to stop, to get Assad to step down, and to turn the page towards a democratic Syria.”

She explained that newly inaugurated Secretary of State John Kerry was not aware of Davutolgu’s statements when the two spoke on Saturday, and therefore did not comment on them.

Yoel Goldman contributed to this report. 

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