01 February 2018
Bartholomew backs Erdogan military campaign
The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch has declared his support for Turkey’s current anti-Kurdish military campaign in Syria.
“Your determined attitude in strictly rejecting any association of terrorism with religion is being reflected on to world opinion”, the Istanbul-based Bartholomew I told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an open letter.
“We pray that you and the Turkish armed forces will achieve success and that Operation Olive Branch will, as its title promises, bring peace to this area”.
The letter, published by Turkey’s Hurriyet daily, said the Orthodox Church had not forgotten that hundreds of thousands of people were now displaced because of the Syrian conflict.
Turkey launched a major military operation on 20 January to clear the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or the YPG, from Syria’s northern Afrin region, and claimed last weekend to have killed over 400 Kurdish fighters, whose forces control large swathes of Syrian territory.
Newspapers in Greece, which has joined the US in backing a Kurdish-led border force in Syria, criticised Bartholomew I’s open letter. Mr Erdogan is due to meet Pope Francis in the Vatican on Tuesday.
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