Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Wednesday told Russia and the United States to end their “street fighting” over Syria, saying it was time to put aside a rivalry that risked harming civilians.
“It’s street fighting. They are fighting like street bullies. But who is paying the price? It’s civilians,” Yildirim said in a televised speech in Istanbul.
“Now is not the time for rivalry. It’s the time to heal the wounds in the region and to come together,” he said.
His comments came after US President Donald Trump warned Russia over its support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, saying US missiles “will be coming” in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack.
Yildirim said that in the current situation the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — including Russia and the United States — had “much greater responsibility.”
In apparent reference to Trump’s fondness for posting bold statements on Twitter, he added: “Yet what are they doing? By posting tweets they are threatening each other.”
“One says ‘I have better missiles’ and the other says ‘mine are better’,” he said.
Turkey is a key NATO ally of the United States but tensions with Washington have soared in the last months, particularly over Syria policy.
Turkey and Russia have been on opposing sides of the conflict in Syria, with Moscow a chief ally of Assad but Ankara backing rebels seeking to oust him.
Yet Turkey has also worked closely in the last months with Russia and Assad’s other main ally Iran in a bid to bring peace to Syria.