Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has boasted about the death of Turkish security forces in Syria, saying a nation owes its existence to “coffins” wrapped in Turkish flags.
“May God bless you. Let God give you long life so that you have white hair, white bears, and cherish your grandchildren...Being a nation is not an easy job. You become a nation by carrying coffins bearing crescent and star [referring to Turkish flag], by keeping a solid line together during Friday prayers,” Soylu was quoted as saying by daily Birgün on July 20.
Soylu made the remarks as he addressed special operation police teams stationed in Syria's Afrin on the first day of the Eid al-Adha.
The minister shared the pictures of his visit on his Twitter account.
📍Afrin, Şehit Emniyet Müdürü Münir Murat Ertekin Özel Harekat Karargâhı 📷 pic.twitter.com/0F8xY5qOnC— Süleyman Soylu (@suleymansoylu) July 20, 2021
Afterwards, Soylu and the accompanying delegation visited the shopkeepers in the area and headed to the town of Azez, where the minister again addressed Turkish police forces. Following his visits, Soylu went back to Turkey.
Main opposition Republican People's Party Party (CHP) lawmaker Mehmet Bekaroğlu slammed the minister over his remarks, saying Turkey has already proved itself as a “nation” through the deaths of soldiers in previous wars, referring specifically to the Gallipoli campaign and Battle of Sakarya which took place during the World War I and Turkish War of Independence.
“Do you hear yourself? We have already so many times become a nation by giving our children in Gallipoli [Çanakkale], Sakarya, Afyon Kocatepe and several other wars,” he wrote on Twitter.
Ağzından çıkanı kulağın duyuyor mu? Biz Çanakkale’de, Sakarya’da, Afyon Kocatepe’de ve daha nice savaşlarda bu topraklara evlatlarımızı vererek kaç defa millet olduk! @suleymansoylu https://t.co/n64Syqbxn7— Mehmet Bekaroğlu (@MBekaroglu) July 21, 2021
Turkey and allied Syrian fighters took control of Afrin in 2018 in an operation that expelled local Kurdish fighters and displaced thousands of Kurdish residents.
Ankara considers the Kurdish fighters who were in control of Afrin to be terrorists.