Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the Turkish president may be using the recent coup attempt in Turkey to eliminate his opponents in government institutions.
Assad was speaking at a Sunday meeting with a visiting delegation of Lebanese politicians headed by Najah Wakim, the president of the Lebanese People’s Movement, in the Syrian capital, Damascus, according to Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar.
Referring to the recent developments in Turkey, Assad said there is no clear picture of what is going on in Turkey yet and there are many speculations about the coup attempt.
First comes a coup and then a purge?
The attempted putsch in Turkey began on Friday night and the violence and fighting between the rebel soldiers and government loyalists dragged into Saturday, when the coup was largely defeated.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government has arrested thousands of people on suspicion of involvement in the putsch, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hinted that the country may modify the Turkish constitution so as to allow the execution of those involved in the coup bid. Capital punishment is banned under the current Turkish constitution.
“One cannot ignore the possibility that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, is using these developments to eliminate his opponents in Turkey’s military, judicial and political institutions,”
Assad said in his Sunday remarks, according toAl-Akhbar.
Various Turkish officials, including Erdogan, have said those deemed to have played a role in the coup attempt will pay a heavy price.
The crackdown that has been launched in Turkey following the coup, including the mass arrests of suspects, has raised international concern.
France on Sunday warned Erdogan not to use the coup attempt as a “blank check” to silence opponents.
“There cannot be purges… Those who tried to violate Turkish democracy must be pursued within the framework of the rule of law. It’s not for an arbitrary power to carry it out,”
said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.