Erdogan welcomes Western strikes on Syria
ANKARA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday welcomed Western strikes against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad's regime as "appropriate" in retaliation for Damascus' "inhumane" attacks.
"We consider this operation as appropriate," Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling party in Istanbul.
"The regime has seen that its mounting attacks in recent days against dissidents... will not be left unanswered."
The United States, Britain and France carried out a wave of pre-dawn strikes against the Assad regime Saturday in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians on April 7.
Erdogan said he had a "sleepless night" as he monitored all the developments.
"It is not possible for us to approve the situation encountered by (Syrian) babies as a result of the use of chemicals weapons," he said.
"Whoever the perpetrators they should pay a price."
Erdogan, who had a telephone conversation with British Prime Minister Theresa May following the strikes, said he would also speak with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Turkish leader told May his country "clearly condemned" the use of chemical weapons since the very beginning, in a call with the British premier, a Turkish presidential source said.
He said the only way to long-lasting peace in Syria was a "political solution," the source added. The Turkish leader also emphasised the importance of de-escalating the tension in the region.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the strikes had not been launched via Turkey's southern Incirlik air base.
"Turkey was informed ahead of the attack," he wrote on Twitter. "The Incirlik base was not used in the attack."
In a statement, the Turkish foreign ministry said the US-led operation "has eased humanity's conscience in the face of" the suspected chemical attack.
"The Syrian regime, which has been tyrannising its own people for more than seven years, be it with conventional or chemical weapons, has a proven track record of crimes against humanity and war crimes," it said.
"The conscience of the international community is in no doubt about that."
Turkey is a vocal critic of Assad's regime in Damascus and backed rebels fighting for his ouster. In recent months, however, it has closely worked with Russia for a political solution in Syria even though Moscow remains a chief ally of the regime.