Erdoğan running to Putin in panic over Idlib, says opposition leader

Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu blasted the Turkish president on Tuesday for his handling of the situation in Syria’s Idlib province, where Turkey is battling the Russian-backed Syrian government and risks a direct confrontation with Moscow.

Speaking at a meeting for his Republican People’s Party (CHP) ahead of a closed Idlib session in parliament, Kılıçdaroğlu harshly criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s upcoming meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, after a Syrian government air strike killed 36 Turkish soldiers on Thursday.

“Anyone firing on my soldiers is my enemy,” Sözcü newspaper quoted Kılıçdaroğlu as saying, in an apparent reference to the upcoming meeting between the pair in Moscow. “Why should I go to (Putin’s) feet? You ran to Putin in a state of panic.”

The killing of dozens of Turkish troops by Syrian government forces shelling and Russian aerial bombardment in Syria's last rebel-held province of Idlib on Thursday marked the greatest single-day loss of troops for Turkey in decades, spiking February’s death toll to 57.

Kılıçdaroğlu demanded Erdoğan question Putin at their March 5 meeting on how Russia allowed Thursday’s attack to happen despite its military coordination with Turkey, and denied Turkish helicopters from flying casualties back across the border.

Russia has denied it was responsible for the attack, but suggested that Ankara may have invited the attack by placing its troops alongside Syrian rebels and not informing Russia of their location.

Kılıçdaroğlu also slammed Erdoğan’s government for waiting three days to make a statement on the incident, saying the delay was proof that “Turkey is not being governed well”.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP called for a closed session in parliament at a press conference a few hours after reports of the air strike came in.