Ankara not with ISIS, says Turkish President
TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday denied Russian accusations that Ankara was collaborating with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying his country's fight against the Islamist militants was "undisputed".
This comes after Turkey's jets shot down a Russian warplane flying near its border with Syria on Tuesday, which sparked outrage in Moscow.
"Shame on you. Those who claim we buy oil from Daesh are obliged to prove it. If not, you are a slanderer," Mr Erdogan said, using another name for the ISIS group, Agence France-Presse reported.
"Our country's stance against Daesh has been clear since the very beginning. Nobody has the right to dispute our country's fight against Daesh or to incriminate us."
Earlier, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Turkey is protecting ISIS as there is "a direct financial interest of certain Turkish officials in the supply" of oil products from refineries controlled by the group, Russia's Interfax news service reported.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that from Moscow's point of view, Turkey is deliberately trying to bring relations between Moscow and Ankara to a standstill.
Mr Putin added that Moscow is still awaiting an apology from Turkey for downing its fighter jet or an offer of reimbursement for damages, Reuters reported.
Moscow has intensified its strikes in Syria after ISIS claimed it brought down a Russian passenger plane over Egypt last month, killing all 224 people on board.
Ankara and Moscow have backed opposing forces in the four-year Syrian conflict, with Turkey supporting rebel groups opposed to President Bashar Al-Assad, while Russia is one of his last remaining allies.
On Wednesday, Russia sent an advanced missile system to Syria to protect its jets operating there and pledged its air force would keep flying missions near Turkish airspace, sounding a defiant note after Turkey shot down the Russian fighter jet.