Erdogan says Turkey firmly backs Hamas leaders

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Turkish President Recep Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Ankara “firmly backs” the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

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“No-one can make us qualify Hamas as a terrorist organization,” he said in a speech in Istanbul. “Turkey is a country that speaks openly with Hamas leaders and firmly backs them.”

Erdogan has been one of the most virulent critics of Israel since the start of the war in Gaza, which began after an October 7 attack by Hamas in Israel that claimed at least 1,160 lives, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Israel has responded with a relentless ground and air offensive that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said has killed at least 30,960 people in the besieged Palestinian enclave, mostly women and children.

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Erdogan has called Israel a “terrorist state” and accused it of conducting a “genocide” in Gaza.

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