Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is using July 15’s failed military coup attempt as a pretext in order to implement his “extremist agenda.”
Speaking about the recent coup attempt in Turkey to a Cuban state agency, Assad said: “What is more important than the coup [attempt] itself is – we have to look at the procedures and steps that are being taken by Erdoğan and his coterie recently –. [Erdoğan] used the coup [attempt] in order to implement his own extremist agenda — Muslim Brotherhood agenda — within Turkey, and that is dangerous for Turkey and for the neighboring countries, including Syria.”
Turkey has wanted Bashar al-Assad removed from power ever since an uprising that started in the spring of 2011 turned into a full-fledged civil war in Syria.
Erdoğan has been a fierce critic of Assad during the Syria’s five-year war and some have claimed that he armed rebel groups fighting regime forces. He recently hinted that Turkey might give citizenship to almost 3 million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey.
A group of rebel soldiers, acting out of chain of command, attempted a military coup at around 10 p.m. last Friday, with tanks rolling onto the streets of Ankara and İstanbul and soldiers blocking the two main bridges of İstanbul, the Bosphorus Bridge and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge. The military’s claim of a takeover was announced by the state broadcaster TRT after rebel soldiers raided its building. The TRT anchorwoman was forced to announce that the military imposed martial law and declared a curfew until further notice.
Over 200 people, including civilians, were killed in clashes between police and rebel soldiers overnight. The Parliament, the presidential palace and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) headquarters were struck by military helicopters.
The Turkish government managed to suppress the coup attempt and subsequently launched a massive-scale crackdown across the country on media, public servants, judges, prosecutors and teachers, along with rebels within the army.