ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan criticised Russia’s air strikes in Syria as a “grave mistake” that is unacceptable to Ankara, Hurriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.
Russia has said it would step up the strikes, escalating a military intervention which Moscow launched on Wednesday to weaken Islamic State militants, but which Western powers say aims to support President Bashar al-Assad.
“Russia is at the moment making a grave mistake. This may be a sign of a step that will take it to loneliness in the region,” Erdogan said at a news conference at the airport, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Turkey has been supporting Syrian opposition fighters in their battle against Islamic State militants and the Syrian government. Ankara has maintained that Islamic State cannot be beaten without a comprehensive strategy which seeks to remove Assad.
Erdogan’s comments echo those of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who earlier called Russia’s military action a “terrible mistake”.
Erdogan is en route to Belgium to meet EU officials and discuss the refugee crisis which has divided European neighbours and thrown the region into chaos as people flee Syria and other strife-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Alison Williams