ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has summoned Russia’s ambassador in protest over the “intensive” bombing of Turkmen villages in northern Syria by Russian warplanes, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on Friday.
In the meeting with the ambassador, Andrei Karlov, Turkey called for an immediate end to the Russian military operation, which is near the Turkish border, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“It was stressed that the Russian side’s actions were not a fight against terror, but they bombed civilian Turkmen villages and this could lead to serious consequences,” the foreign ministry said.
Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with the Syrian Turkmen, who are Syrians of Turkish descent.
President Tayyip Erdogan has voiced his concern about Russia’s increasing involvement in the Syrian conflict and expressed anger at Russian incursions into Turkish air space in October.
Russia’s air strikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have shifted the balance of power in the conflict and dealt a setback to Turkey’s aim of seeing Assad removed from power.
The foreign ministry said Turkmen villages were subject to “heavy bombardment” by the Russian planes in the Bayirbucak area of northwest Syria, close to Turkey’s Yayladag border gate in Hatay province.
Reporting by Ercan Gurses; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by David Dolan