Erdogan slams claims of Turkey IS cooperation as 'black propaganda'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jakarta (AFP) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday fiercely denied suggestions Turkey was assisting Islamic State militants, accusing "dark powers" of spreading false propaganda about his country.

During a visit to Indonesia, the president said Turkey had suffered "significant losses" in its battle against terrorists but was determined to keep up the fight, pointing to military operations launched by Ankara in the last few days.

Turkey launched strikes against IS last week following a devastating suicide bombing in a border town, and shortly after gave the US approval to use the strategic Incirlik air base near the Syrian border for anti-IS raids.

But after initially targeting the IS group, the campaign has become increasingly focused on Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants, with the Turkish air force launching a wave of new assaults on PKK targets.

The PKK has accused Ankara of collaborating with IS, while Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party claims Erdogan is using strikes against the jihadists as "cover" for its main goal of eroding the PKK.

Though not naming the PKK, Erdogan said "dark powers" were spreading misinformation about Turkey, dismissing accusations against Turkey as "ungrounded and unjustified".

"Unfortunately these dark powers or circles try to convey the image - the black propaganda - that Turkey is actually assisting this kind of terrorist organisation," Erdogan, through a translator, told an audience at a military thinktank in Jakarta at the start of a two-day visit to Indonesia.

"Never has Turkey been involved in this kind of a scenario... and never will it be."

Syria's foreign ministry this week also expressed scepticism about Turkish efforts to fight IS, suggesting internal factors were at play.

Turkey had long been reluctant to take action against IS militants. Its failure to let US planes use Incirlik for raids against IS in Syria had caused severe irritation in Washington.

Turkey's decision to lump IS together with Kurdish forces who bitterly oppose the jihadist group has surprised some Western allies, but NATO this week united behind the alliance's only Muslim member.

Erdogan also used his speech in Jakarta to criticise countries trying to "pass the blame to Turkey" because they couldn't keep track of their own citizens travelling abroad to fight with IS militants.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting