Mar 04 2019

Turkey is also Damascus, Jerusalem, Mecca - Interior Minister

Turkish people are the descendants of a great civilisation that encompasses cities and regions across the Middle East, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said during a campaign rally in Diyarbakır on Sunday, reported Dubai-based AlArabiya.

“We are not only just Turkey, but also Damascus, Aleppo, Kirkuk, Jerusalem, Palestine, Mecca, and Medina,” Soylu said at the city’s police headquarters, with just weeks to go before Turkey’s March 31 local elections. “We are the grandchildren of a great civilization.”

Diyarbakır is the largest city in Turkey’s southeast, where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has fought an insurgency for more than three decades. Violence has flared since a ceasefire collapsed in July 2015.

Soylu’s comments may also seek to rally support for Turkey’s continued presence in northern Syria, as well as its anticipated third incursion, expected soon east of the Euphrates River.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in recent years repeatedly mentioned the Misak-i Milli, or National Pact, a 1920 document that lays out broader Turkish borders, including parts of Syria. Erdogan has linked the pact to Turkey’s looming military incursion into Syria.

Last week, Turkey began its largest ever naval exercises, heightening tensions with Greece and Cyprus amid competing territorial claims.