President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back at the head of northern Cyprus on Sunday after a highly rare rebuke of the Turkish government over its offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria.
“I say it clearly: he has totally overstepped his bounds,” Erdogan said in comments carried by state news agency Anadolu.
Turkey’s “Operation Peace Spring” against Kurdish militants in northern Syria was launched on Wednesday, drawing criticism from around the world.
But Ankara was not expecting criticism from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a territory whose sovereignty Turkey is alone in recognizing.
The republic was created after Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 following a coup aimed at bringing the island back under Greek control, and it has been divided ever since.
Its current head, Mustafa Akinci, criticized the Turkish assault in Syria on his personal Facebook account on Saturday.
“Even if we call it Peace Spring, it is blood that is spilling and not water,” he wrote, calling for “dialogue and diplomacy.”
Erdogan warned: “At the given time, we will deliver an appropriate response.”
His vice president, Fuat Oktay, had earlier “strongly condemned” Akinci’s statement, adding that the bodies of Turkish soldiers killed during the 1974 invasion must be “turning in their graves.”