DOHA (Al Jazeera): Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned reported Russian air strikes that killed dozens of Syrian civilians in a rebel-held city and said Syria will not be part of “Russian imperialist goals.”
Air raids killed more than 40 people in the center of Idlib in northwest Syria on Sunday, rescue workers and residents said.
“Syrian lands are not, and will not be, a part of Russia’s imperialist goals,” Davutoglu told members of his ruling AK Party in parliament on Tuesday.
Relations between Ankara and Moscow are at their worst in recent memory after Turkey shot down a Russian plane over Syria last month, leading to the death of its pilot who was shot by rebels as he parachuted down.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said on its website on Tuesday at least three women from one family were killed as “Russian warplanes” targeted Idlib, while three people died in Homs province.
The observatory said Russian air strikes have killed 2,132 people in Syria — one-third of them civilians — since they began on September 30.
About 710 civilians were killed — of whom 161 were children and 104 women — and the rest were rebels from various groups, it said.
The observatory has an extensive network of informants inside Syria. It bases its tallies on Russian-caused casualties by the type of aircraft flown and munitions used.
Turkey — which has long called for the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and supports rebels fighting against him — has been highly critical of Russia’s role in the region. Moscow is a longtime ally of Assad.
Russia began a major campaign of air strikes on September 30 in support of Assad, whose forces have suffered setbacks this year, including the loss of Idlib province and other areas of crucial strategic importance.
Turkey’s Davutoglu also said talks on restoring ties with Israel were continuing and Ankara was insisting on its demands for compensation and for “lifting restrictions” on Gaza, which is subject to an Israeli blockade.
Israel’s once-strong ties to Turkey soured in 2010 when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists when they stormed a ship in a convoy seeking to break an Israeli naval blockade of the Palestinian territory of Gaza.