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Erdogan: Strikes on Kurds Are ‘Legitimate Defense in the Face of Terrorist Attacks’

Turkey has refused entreaties from the U.S., France, and Russia to halt its shelling of Kurdish positions in Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the artillery strikes as self-defense against a terrorist threat, continuing his effort to link the Syrian Kurdish militia to Kurdish separatists in Turkey and blame them for the Ankara bombing.

“The situation we are currently facing is one of legitimate defence. No-one can deny or limit Turkey’s legitimate right to defence in the face of terrorist attacks,” Erdogan declared in a speech in Istanbul Saturday night, as reported by AFP.

AFP reports this speech follows up on comments Erdogan made earlier in the week, when he declared his commitment to preventing the Kurds from carving out an independent state in northern Syria.

“To fight the threats which it faces, Turkey has the right to launch any kind of operation, in Syria and wherever else the terrorist organisations are located,” the Turkish president said on that occasion.

The United States has long supported Syrian Kurdish forces as the most effective front-line combat troops against the Islamic State, while Turkey insists they are in league with the PKK separatists. President Obama had a lengthy phone call with Erdogan on Friday in which he urged “restraint” in northern Syria, evidently to no avail.

Turkey has, in turn, demanded unequivocal support from the U.S. against the Kurds.

“The only thing we expect from our US ally is to support Turkey with no ifs or buts,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday. “If 28 Turkish lives have been claimed through a terrorist attack, we can only expect [the US] to say any threat against Turkey is a threat against them.”

The same article quotes President Erdogan asserting, “Whoever prevents us from using our right of self-defense, we will recognize it as a terrorist and act accordingly.”

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