March 26th, 2012
08:54 AM ET

Syrian opposition groups gather in Turkey, try to unify voice

Disjointed factions of the Syrian opposition are meeting Monday in Istanbul in an effort to form a unified voice ahead of the next week's "Friends of Syria" conference.

Turkey and Qatar urged opposition groups to attend the conference, which they said "will bring all major opposition groups and figures committed to a peaceful political transition in Syria," according to an invitation sent to prospective attendees.

The meeting comes as the reported death toll from a government crackdown mounts inside Syria. At least 14 people were killed across Syria on Monday, the opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights said.

The goal of Monday's conference is "for all forces and parties of the opposition not to be a union, but at least to have a united purpose," said Amar Qurabi, leader of the National Change Current opposition group.

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Filed under: Syria • Turkey • World
January 23rd, 2012
10:41 AM ET

French Senate to vote on Armenian genocide bill

The French Senate is expected to vote Monday on controversial legislation that would criminalize any public denial of what the bill calls the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey last century.

Turkey has expressed anger over the bill - passed last month by the French National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament - and relations between the two governments have deteriorated over the matter.

The Republic of Armenia has hailed the French move.

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January 3rd, 2012
04:43 AM ET

Minister: Turkey to compensate families of air strike victims

Turkey says it will compensate the families of 35 civilians killed last week in a military airstrike in a Kurdish area on the border with Iraq.

"This will be realized immediately, within several days," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday.

"We extend our condolences again," Arinc said. "Of course, there are big things our government will do for the families, for those who survived. One of these is, as also defined by law, is paying compensation."

On Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he regreted the deaths, calling the incident "a sad outcome."

Pledging a full investigation, Erdogan said those killed late Wednesday were smuggling cigarettes and fuel, with almost half of them below the age of 20.

Erdogan said Turkey's military had been monitoring the area because it was in constant use by terrorist groups and that security forces had become suspicious because of the size of the group and number of donkeys used.

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December 30th, 2011
07:51 AM ET

Turkish PM Erdogan regrets Kurdish civilian airstrike deaths

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that he regrets the deaths of 35 civilians in an airstrike in a Kurdish area on the border with Iraq late Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, he said, "It is an unfortunate outcome. It is a sad outcome."

Pledging a full investigation, he said those killed were smuggling cigarettes and fuel, with almost half of them below the age of 20.

Erdogan said Turkey's military had been monitoring the area because it was in constant use by terrorist groups and that security forces had become suspicious because of the size of the group and number of donkeys used.

The funerals of the victims, who all came from three villages in the Uludere area of Sirnak province, should now have been conducted, he said.

His words came a day after a senior member of a Kurdish separatist group urged Kurds to rise up against Turkish authorities over what he called a massacre.

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Filed under: Iraq • Turkey
December 29th, 2011
03:20 AM ET

Airstrike kills 31 Kurdish villagers in southeast Turkey

An airstrike in southeast Turkey killed at least 31 Kurdish villagers crossing into the country from Iraq on Wednesday night, a local official from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party said.

"A group of villagers were coming from northern Iraq across the border after 9.30 p.m. Their path was blocked by soldiers and then four planes bombed them," said the official, Yunus Urek, blaming the Turkish military for the attack.

The people were from the border villages of Ortasu and Gulyazi, according to Urek, who said he was in Ortasu

"These are people who go across the border all the time, for their daily needs like sugar or fuel," he said. "Only one person survived with injuries."

There was no immediate reaction from the Turkish government.

Some observers have sounded the alarm in recent months about escalating tension between Turkey and its Kurdish minority, warning it may reignite a conflict that has simmered since 1984 and claimed more than 30,000 lives.

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December 13th, 2011
10:48 AM ET

Panetta optimistic about Afghanistan

This year "will mark a turning point" in Afghanistan and other regions, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

In Afghanistan, "our troops have been able to obviously reduce the levels of violence there. We've seen the lowest levels of violence there in almost five years there now. They are successful in securing some of the key areas in Afghanistan," Panetta told reporters during a flight on his overseas trip.

He's visiting Djibouti, Iraq, Turkey and Libya, as well as Afghanistan, where war still rages. He'll meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, and Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

"Obviously, there is greater success in the Afghan military and police. The Afghan military is engaging in operations," Panetta said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Leon Panetta • Libya • Politics • Turkey • U.S.
November 30th, 2011
08:38 AM ET

International pressure mounts on Syria

World pressure on the Syrian regime escalated Wednesday as Turkey announced tough economic sanctions and a leading U.N. body announced a Friday meeting on the human rights situation.

In Saudi Arabia, the Organization of Islamic Conference, a worldwide alliance of Muslim nations, met on Wednesday to discuss the bloodshed in Syria, whose government has been widely condemned for its fierce crackdown against protesters.

"Collective punishment methods, besieging cities, bombing mosques, using excessive violence against peaceful demonstrators and killing tens of people every day pointing weapons to their own people with army units following armed gangs such as shabiha are the manifestations of the Syrian administration's lack of understanding of legitimacy," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who announced a series of sanctions against Syria.

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Turkish PM tells Syria's president to step down or risk death
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pcitured) has condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in remarks to party members.
November 22nd, 2011
09:08 AM ET

Turkish PM tells Syria's president to step down or risk death

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a stern warning to Syria's president Tuesday, saying that he risks facing the same fate as Libya's slain Moammar Gadhafi if he does not step down.

Erdogan condemned President Bashar al-Assad for remarks he reportedly made over the weekend that he would fight to the death to resist foreign forces, saying al-Assad was battling his own people.

"For God's sake, who are you fighting against?" Erdogan said, in remarks to party members in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

"To fight against your own people 'til you die is not heroism; it is cowardice. If you want to see someone who has fought until death against his own people, just look at Nazi Germany, just look at Hitler, at Mussolini, at Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.

"If you cannot draw any lessons from these, then look at the Libyan leader who pointed weapons against his own people, used the same terms you use and who was killed just 32 days ago in a way that none of us wished."

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5.7-magnitude earthquake rocks eastern Turkey
November 9th, 2011
04:30 PM ET

5.7-magnitude earthquake rocks eastern Turkey

[Posted at 4:14 p.m. ET] A school has also collapsed following the earthquake in Turkey's Van province, according to Turkish state broadcaster, TRT.

Video from DHA showed residents and rescuers in a floodlit nighttime search effort combing through rubble of what appeared to have been a multistory building in Van.

One survivor was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building, but there were no early indications of how many people might be unaccounted for in the aftermath of the quake.

iReport: Are you there? Send photos, videos

[Posted at 4:06 p.m. ET] At least 18 buildings, including two hotels, have collapsed in eastern Turkey after the 5.7-magnitude quake struck, Reuters is reporting, citing Turkish state TV.

Journalists are reporting that some buildings weakened by the 7.2-magnitude quake on October 23 in the same province are now seeing structural damage. The previous quake killed more than 600 people.

[Posted at 3:55 p.m. ET] A 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey Wednesday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter was 16 kilometers (9 miles) south of the town of Van, the USGS said, and its depth was 4.8 kilometers (3 miles). The quake hit at 9:23 p.m. (2:23 p.m. ET), it said.

Reuters is reporter that a hotel and an office building have collapsed in Van, citing Turkish state TV.

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October 25th, 2011
11:40 AM ET

Two-week-old baby, mother pulled alive from earthquake rubble in Turkey

[Updated at 11:40 a.m. ET] A 2-week-old baby and her mother were rescued alive from the rubble of an apartment building in eastern Turkey, two days after an earthquake in the region toppled buildings and killed more than 400 people.

Rescuers also pulled the baby's paternal grandmother from the rubble, but it was not immediately clear whether she was alive. She was carried to a vehicle on a stretcher.

Dramatic video showed tiny Azra Karaduman being carried by rescuers to a vehicle that would take her to the hospital. They were holding a mask over her mouth to help give her oxygen.

The girl's father remains trapped somewhere under the rubble of the multi-story building, officials said.

[Initial post, 7:29 a.m. ET] A 2-week-old baby was pulled alive from the rubble of an apartment building Tuesday in eastern Turkey, two days after a devastating earthquake.

Dramatic video showed rescuers carrying the small baby to a vehicle. A rescue operation is under way to reach the girl's mother and grandmother, officials said. They are being provided with oxygen until rescuers can get to them.

The child's father is under the rubble somewhere as well, officials said. A relative said the baby was born three weeks prematurely.

432 dead in Turkey quake | Photos

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October 19th, 2011
03:48 AM ET

Multiple deaths feared in attack in Turkey

Multiple casualties were reported from an early Wednesday morning attack in southeastern Turkey, officials said.

Rockets were launched at security forces and military sites in the town of Cukurca, an official with the provincial governor's office and Turkish President Abdullah Gul said.

Neither gave a death toll in the attack but CNN Turk reported that at least 24 people were killed.

Gul blamed terrorism when he spoke about the attack during a televised address.

"Our determination is certain. Those who think that democratic improvements in Turkey are achieved as a result of terrorism are making a big mistake," Gul said. "It is our decision to continue the struggle against terrorism without giving any concessions."

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Only women, kids allowed into Turkish soccer game
Women and children fill the stands in Istanbul's SĂĽkrĂĽ Saracoglu stadium on Tuesday night.
September 21st, 2011
01:55 PM ET

Only women, kids allowed into Turkish soccer game

Soccer authorities in Turkey may have hit on the perfect solution for unruly fans: Ladies Night!

The Turkish Football Federation had planned to make Istanbul favorite Fenerbahce play two games in an empty stadium after fans invaded the pitch after a friendly against Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk during the summer, according to a Turkish Weekly report.

But new rules say those games will be open only to women and children under age 12, National Turk reports. Admission is free.

The policy got its first test Tuesday night in Istanbul, as 45,000 women and children turned out to watch Fenerbahce and Manisaspor face off in the Turkish Super League.

“It was such a fun and pleasant atmosphere. At first, we Manisaspor players couldn’t believe in what we were seeing and hearing,” Manisaspor midfielder Ömer Aysan is quoted as saying by National Turk.

What they were hearing was something unexpected in the usual partisan atmosphere of Fenerbahce Istanbul’s Sükrü Saracoglu stadium: cheers for the visiting team.

Players from both teams greeted their female fans before kickoff, tossing flowers into the stands, Turkish Weekly reported.

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September 20th, 2011
08:34 AM ET

3 killed in Turkey blast

Three people died in an explosion in the Turkish capital Ankara, in what may have been a terror attack, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin told CNN sister network CNN Turk on Tuesday.

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September 2nd, 2011
06:23 AM ET

Turkey downgrading ties with Israel

Turkey is downgrading its military and diplomatic relations with its one-time close ally Israel amid longstanding tensions over the deadly Israeli raid on a flotilla headed to Gaza last year.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Friday that his government has suspended its military agreements and lowered its diplomatic relationship with the Jewish state.

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August 25th, 2011
08:24 AM ET

Nations hold Libya talks in Turkey

Diplomats from 29 countries are attending a meeting of the Libyan Contact Group, a coalition of Arab and European governments as well as the United States and Turkey, in Istanbul.

Representatives from NATO, the African Union, United Nations, European Union, Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council and Libya's National Transitional Council - the rebel Libyan government - are also present.

The meeting began Thursday with opening remarks from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Turkey is one of the co-chairs of the Libya Contact Group.

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Syrian forces enter village near Turkish border, sources say
A Syrian refugee waves his nation's flag Saturday at a camp in Turkey.
June 18th, 2011
09:24 AM ET

Syrian forces enter village near Turkish border, sources say

Syrian security forces determined to quell a three-month uprising stormed the northern village of Badama, near the Turkish border, a witness and an activist said Saturday.

Units entered the village equipped with at least six tanks, 21 armed personnel carriers, 10 security buses and randomly fired at houses, the Syrian activist said, adding that security forces also closed the road to the village of Khirbet Aljooz.

Jameel Saib, an eyewitness near the Turkish border, told CNN people that displaced Syrians trying to enter Badama to get bread and supplies saw the Syrian forces close roads leading to the border.

If Badama is taken, Syrian refugees who want to escape the violence in their country will have no medicine or clean water, Saib said.

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Jolie in Turkey to meet Syrian refugees
June 17th, 2011
10:01 AM ET

Jolie in Turkey to meet Syrian refugees

Actress Angelina Jolie, a longtime goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency, arrived in southern Turkey on Friday to visit Syrian refugees, a high-profile trip focusing attention on misery faced by ordinary citizens who have escaped violence in turbulent Syria.

Jolie, who is scheduled to visit the Altinozu refugee camp, arrived at the airport in Hatay and was greeted by officials, according to the state-run Anatolian Agency.

Hatay provincial officials had vans for the trip to Altinozu, and "toys unloaded from the plane were loaded to one of the vans in her convoy," the agency reported.

More than 9,600 Syrian men, women, and children have fled their country for Turkey to escape violence, including a military offensive in the Jisr al-Shugur area.

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Votes being counted in historic Turkish election
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party are expected to do well in Sunday's election.
June 12th, 2011
11:43 AM ET

Votes being counted in historic Turkish election

Officials in Turkey began tallying votes in potentially crucial parliamentary elections after polls closed Sunday, and partial results were expected later in the day.

Fifteen parties are competing, as well as more than 200 independent candidates, for 550 seats in Turkey's next Parliament.

Polls suggest there is little doubt that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his electoral powerhouse Justice and Development Party (AKP) will win a third term. They are running against a splintered opposition of secularists, leftists, Kurdish nationalists and Turkish ultranationalists.

Erdogan and the AKP first swept to power in 2002 after the party won 34% of the vote. The victory brought an end to years of weak and crisis-prone coalition governments. The party won a much stronger mandate in 2007 parliamentary elections when it captured 47% of the vote.

Erdogan ran his campaign largely focused on his government's years of economic stability and prosperity. Turkey went from double-digit inflation and a debilitating banking crisis in 2001 to an 8.9% economic growth rate in 2010. A recent Pew poll shows six in 10 Turks surveyed "have a lot or some confidence in Erdogan to do the right thing in world affairs."

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Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a major address Thursday on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
May 17th, 2011
09:37 PM ET

Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'

The United States' image in four Middle Eastern nations and the Palestinian territories largely doesn't appear to have improved during anti-government uprisings that have shaken regimes in the region, a survey from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project found.

Fewer people in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon view the United States favorably now than in 2010, while small gains were seen in Egypt - where an uprising toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak earlier this year - and the Palestinian territories, according to the survey.

Pew said America's image also dipped in the two other predominantly Muslim nations that were surveyed: Pakistan and Indonesia.

The results of the survey, which was taken between March 21 and April 26, come as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver on Thursday a highly anticipated address on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings that have shaken autocratic regimes across North Africa and the Middle East.

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Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say
A pro-Hezbollah cleric spray paints his family name on a banner in Sidon supporting caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
January 19th, 2011
11:16 AM ET

Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say

Militants fanned out across Beirut and reportedly staged coup drills as political unrest continued to percolate in the country, Lebanese and Israeli media outlets reported.

Operatives from Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite groups, gathered in groups of up to 30 at a dozen strategic points in the Lebanese capital Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post said.  Included were sea ports, the airport and entries to the city, the newspaper reported.

Though Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, told The Post he wasn’t aware of any such drills, parents pulled their children from school after seeing people dressed in black and carrying hand-held radios.

A mother of three picking up her children in the Hamra area of the capital said the school contacted her “because the security situation is not good,” The Daily Star in Beirut reported.

One gathering was about 400 yards from the Grand Serall, downtown Beirut’s government seat, forcing security officials to close the roads to the building, The Post said.  The men were unarmed and no trouble was reported, according to various media.

Sources told The Daily Star that the men appeared well-organized and were seen in west Beirut, downtown and in the southern suburb of Hadath.

The drill came as Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sat down for talks with Lebanese politicians, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, aimed at heading off sectarian strife in the country, The Daily Star reported.

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