Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on Monday, calling him a terrorist for having killed “110,000 of his own people.”
“Assad is a terrorist who uses state terror,” Erdogan told Turkish paper Hurriyet, after a meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee in Ankara.
“I don’t regard Bashar Assad as a politician anymore,” Erdogan said. “A person who killed 110,000 of his own people is a terrorist.”
The remarks came after Assad warned on Saturday that Turkey would “pay dearly” for supporting opposition fighting to “overthrow his regime,” in an interview with Der Spiegel.
“In the near future, these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey. Turkey will pay very dearly for its contribution,” Assad said in the interview.
During the interview, Assad expressed harsh criticism against Erdogan, saying he was a “liar” who “supports terrorists.”
Referring to a comment by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the success of the start of a chemical weapons cleanup in Syria and Assad’s compliance in the operation so far, Erdogan was skeptical about his congratulatory tone.
“You are a human being and me, too. How can we appreciate the behavior of a person who killed 110,000 people, I ask you. The result of either chemical or other types of weapons is death. Then how can we appreciate this? I cannot imagine a person who appreciates this. I don’t think Mr. Kerry made such statement. If he made it, he would be contradicting himself,” Erdogan was reported as saying.
Erdogan, along with French President Francois Hollande, was one of the most staunch supporters of U.S. military intervention in Syria following the August 21 chemical attack that took place in a suburb of Damascus, leaving hundreds dead.