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Erdogan in sharp warning to US ahead of Tillerson visit

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Istanbul (dpa) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a sharp warning to the United States ahead of a visit this week by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with the two nations at loggerheads over their involvement in the Syria conflict.

"It is very clear that those who say ‘we will respond aggressively if they strike us‘ have never in their lives received an Ottoman slap," Erdogan said in Ankara.

Last week, Paul Funk, a top US general in Syria, warned: "You hit us, we will respond aggressively. We will defend ourselves." The New York Times, which reported the quote, said it was a message to Turkey, which threatened a city in Syria where the US has a presence.

"We will definitely not target them on purpose," Erdogan said in his latest speech to members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), without mentioning the US specifically.

"However, we announce ahead of time that we will destroy, eradicate each terrorist we see, starting from those who are right beside them. They will then realize that it is better for them not to stand with the terrorists," Erdogan said to applause.

The Syrian city of Manbij has turned into a flashpoint between the US and Turkey. The city was captured from Islamic State extremists by a coalition of fighters, led by Kurdish forces and backed by the US.

Turkey sees the main Kurdish militia in Syria, the YPG as a terrorist organization linked to Turkish-Kurdish insurgents and is angry the US has partnered with them to fight Islamic State.

Tillerson lands in Turkey on Thursday and is due to meet Erdogan.


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