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Thirteen people have been injured and at least one person died in a car bomb blast near the main police station in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, officials say.

The explosion hit Gaziantep, 6 miles from the Syrian border, at about 09:30 local time.

CNN Turk said the explosion was heard several miles away.Gaziantep police station explosion

Turkey has been hit by a series of deadly blasts over the past year, linked either to Kurdish militants or ISIS.

Ankara, Istanbul and Bursa are among cities that have been targeted by suicide bombings.

According to Gaziantep’s regional governor, nine of the injured were police officers.

Some reports said gunfire was heard after the blast. There was no immediate word on who is behind the latest blast.

Gaziantep is known to have several ISIS cells.


German comedian Jan Boehmermann could be prosecuted for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Turkish president filed a complaint.

Jan Boehmermann had recited a satirical poem on television which made sexual references to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under German law, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had to approve a criminal inquiry.

Angela Merkel stressed that the courts would have the final word, and it was now up to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

The chancellor added that her government would move to repeal the controversial and little-used Article 103 of the penal code, which concerns insults against foreign heads of state, by 2018.

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

Jan Boehmermann is a satirist and TV presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humor. He was given police protection earlier this week.

Some experts say the comedian has a strong defense against potential charges, because his poem could be seen as part of a wider piece of satire about free speech, rather than a deliberate insult.

An earlier remark by Angela Merkel that the poem was “deliberately offensive” had led to accusations in Germany that she was not standing up for free speech.

The poem was broadcast on ZDF TV two weeks ago. The public TV channel has decided not to broadcast Boehmermann’s weekly satire program this week because of the furor surrounding him.

Before announcing that Jan Boehmermann could be prosecuted, Angela Merkel stressed her government expected Turkey to comply with EU democratic norms in the areas of free speech and judicial independence.

“In a state under the rule of law, it is not a matter for the government but rather for state prosecutors and courts to weigh personal rights issues and other concerns affecting press and artistic freedom,” the chancellor said.

“The presumption of innocence applies,” Angela Merkel added, explaining that she was not making any prejudgement about Jan Boehmermann.

In her statement in Berlin, Angela Merkel said that the approval of the federal government was a legal precondition for the prosecution of this specific offence.

“The foreign office, the justice ministry, the interior ministry and the chancellery took part in this review,” she said.

“There were diverging opinions between the coalition partners… The result is that in the present case the federal government will grant its approval.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has drawn much criticism in Turkey and internationally for attacking opponents, including harassment of journalists. Many accuse him of authoritarian methods, stifling legitimate dissent and promoting an Islamist agenda.

Some Germans worry that Angela Merkel is compromising on freedom of expression in order to ensure Turkey’s continued co-operation to stem the influx of refugees into the EU.


First refugees being deported from Greece has arrived in Turkey as part of an EU plan aimed at easing mass migration to Europe.

Scores of refugees boarded ferries on the Greek island of Lesbos and arrived in Dikili, western Turkey.

According to Frontex, the EU’s border agency, most of the 136 people who left Lesbos on April 4 were Pakistanis.

Meanwhile, the first group of 16 Syrian refugees has arrived in Germany from Turkey, officials say.

Under the deal, for each Syrian refugee returned to Turkey, the EU is due to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request.Greece refugee deportations

However, Greek authorities said the first deportees were those who had not applied for asylum, and included citizens from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Morocco.

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir said there were no Syrians among the first group of refugees sent from Greece.

Another ferry carrying refugees to Turkey is also due to leave the Greek island of Chios on April 4.

Under the EU-Turkey deal, refugees arriving illegally in Greece are expected to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

However, refugees in Greece have complained of a lack of information about the asylum procedure and some said they were unaware they could be returned.

Frontex has less than one-tenth of the staff needed to do the job, the Associated Press reported.

The arrangement has alarmed rights groups, who say Turkey is not a safe country for refugees.

Amnesty International has accused Turkey of illegally returning Syrians to their homeland, something Turkey denies.

Save the Children called the deal “illegal and inhumane”, saying people told them they would kill themselves if sent back to Turkey.

Since the deal was struck in March, about 400 people have been arriving each day on the Greek islands.

Tens of thousands have been stuck in Greece after northern countries closed their borders. There have been clashes in camps amid dire conditions.

One million migrants and refugees have entered the EU by boat from Turkey to Greece since last year.

Many of the refugees are keen to travel to Germany and other northern EU countries and experts have warned the deal could force them to take alternative, more dangerous routes.


Greece has passed a law allowing refugees arriving in the country to be returned to Turkey.

The new law is essential for the implementation of an EU-Turkey deal aimed at easing the uncontrolled mass movement of people into Europe.

On April 4, Turkey is due to receive its first refugees returned from Greece.

However, there are warnings of a lack of preparation on both sides, while aid agencies are concerned refugees may be mistreated in Turkey.Greece refugee law

Greece had to amend its laws for the deal to be possible and the bill was passed by 169 members of the 300-seat parliament.

In 2015, more than one million migrants and refugees arrived in the EU by boat from Turkey to Greece, and Athens has struggled to cope.

Tens of thousands have been stranded in Greece after northern counties closed their borders.

Under the EU-Turkey deal, refugees arriving illegally in Greece are expected to be sent back to Turkey from April 4 if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.

In return, Turkey will receive aid and political concessions.

The UN has called on Turkey and Greece to ensure safeguards are in place before returns begin, warning of “serious gaps” on both sides.

According to an Amnesty International report, Turkey has been illegally forcing thousands of refugees back to Syria.

Turkey is yet to respond to the Amnesty report but has denied sending back any refugees against their will.

Turkey has taken in 2.7 million Syrian refugees since the civil war began five years ago. Many live in camps near the border between Turkey and Syria.


The European Union and Turkey have reached a deal on the refugee crisis, which will see refugees returned to Turkey in exchange for aid and political concessions.

Under the plan, from March 20 at midnight refugees arriving in Greece will be sent back to Turkey if their asylum claim is rejected.

In return, EU countries will resettle Syrian refugees living in Turkey.EU and Turkey refugee deal 2016

EU leaders have welcomed the agreement but German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of legal challenges to come.

Some of the initial concessions offered to Turkey have been watered down and some EU members expressed disquiet over Turkey’s human rights record.

Despite this Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu said it was a “historic” day.

“We today realized that Turkey and the EU have the same destiny, the same challenges and the same future.”

Donald Tusk stressed the agreement was no “silver bullet” and was just one part of the EU’s response to a crisis that has sharply divided the bloc’s members.

Angela Merkel said she was satisfied but added: “I have no illusions that what we agreed today will be accompanied by further setbacks.”

Since January 2015, a million refugees have entered the EU by boat from Turkey to Greece. More than 132,000 have arrived this year alone.

Tens of thousands are now stuck in Greece as their route north has been blocked.


Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan has described the harem of the Ottoman era as an “educational establishment that prepared women for life,” reports say.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s wife was speaking at an official event on Ottoman sultans in Ankara, say Turkish TV stations.

Emine Erdogan’s comments came a day after the president said a woman was “above all a mother” in a speech to mark International Women’s Day.

Family members, servants and concubines all lived in the imperial harem.

The sultans who ruled the Ottoman Empire had a harem at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, which has been a museum since 1924.Emine Erdogan harem speech

The sultan spent his domestic life in the harem, where his wives lived, as well as female family members and concubines, who numbered into the hundreds. Male staff were eunuchs.

Emine Erdogan said the harem was a school for members of the Ottoman dynasty.

Traces left by harem women in the empire’s six centuries of history could be “an inspiration”, the first lady said, according to Turkish media.

Concubines kept in the harem did receive some training and were well fed. However, they were not free to leave the palace if they wanted to.

Some Turks were quick to criticize Emine Erdogan’s comments on social media.

“Receiving education in harem doesn’t make it a school. This is nonsense,” tweeted @GaziCaglar, saying there would have been about 400 concubines in the sultan’s harem.

“If the Ottoman harem was a scholarly institution then why were the men who worked there castrated?” asked @anlam75.

“Those who mention harem do not send their daughters to anything less than American universities,” tweeted @kizmonot, a reference to the fact that both the Erdogans’ daughters studied at Indiana University.

However, some – including pro-government journalist Ceren Kenar – pointed out that Emine Erdogan is correct to say that women were educated in the harem.


Leaders from Turkey and EU have gathered in Brussels for an emergency summit on tackling Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two.

The EU aims to stem the flow of refugees and plans to declare the route north through the Balkans closed.

It will press Turkey to take back economic migrants and has pledged to give Ankara €3 billion ($3.3 billion).

In 2015, more than a million people entered the EU illegally by boat, mainly going from Turkey to Greece.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Many refugees leave Greece in a bid to reach northern Europe, but eight countries have introduced temporary border controls.

Some 13,000 refugees are currently stranded in northern Greece, after Macedonia, backed by Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia, closed its border to all but a trickle of refugees.

The human cost of the migrant crisis was brought home again on Sunday when a boat capsized off Turkey with the loss of 25 lives.

EU states remain divided over their response to the crisis with strains showing this year even in Germany and Sweden, seen as the countries most open to refugees.

Anti-migrant parties won a general election in Slovakia on March 5 which saw the far right gaining seats.

The summit will be in two parts – the first session will involve Turkey, while in the second part UK Prime Minister David Cameron will join other EU leaders in seeking to reach a common approach to the crisis.

The EU is expected to ask Turkey to take back thousands of refugees who do not qualify for asylum.

In return the EU will discuss plans to resettle in Europe some refugees already in Turkey.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated last week Turkey was ready to take back all migrants apprehended in Turkish waters.

EU leaders are also likely to raise the issue of the Zaman newspaper, the biggest opposition journal in Turkey.

On March 4, a Turkish court ordered the seizure of the Zaman, increasing fears for media freedom. Two days later it was publishing pro-government articles.

At least 28 people have been killed and scores injured in a rush-hour car bombing targeting military personnel in Ankara, Turkey.

Ankara Governor Mehmet Kiliçer said the explosion was aimed at a convoy of military vehicles as it passed through the administrative center of the Turkish state, close to parliament, government buildings and Turkey’s military headquarters.

Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus confirmed that the attack was carried out with a car bomb, but added that the perpetrators had not yet been identified.

“We do not yet know the perpetrators,” he told reporters.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“This attack did not only target our military personnel in those shuttles. This attack openly targets our entire nation. We condemn those who carried it out, those who instrumentalized the perpetrators, and those who gave logistical, intelligence and even political support to such attacks.”

An official at the armed forces’ general staff confirmed military buses had been the target, hit by an explosive-laden car as they waited at traffic lights.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the attack would only strengthen Turkey’s resolve against insurgents.

PM Ahmet Davutoğlu cancelled a trip to Brussels to attend a security briefing. He said the authorities were looking into information they have received about the explosion on Wednesday night, February 17.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement saying: “We will continue our fight against the pawns that carry out such attacks, which know no moral or humanitarian bounds, and the forces behind them with more determination every day.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Security sources told Reuters that “initial signs [indicated] that militants from Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were behind the Ankara bombing on Wednesday”. This has not been confirmed.


Russian soccer player Dmitri Tarasov taunted Turkish fans by pulling off his shirt to reveal a picture of President Vladimir Putin after a match in Istanbul.

Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Dmitri Tarasov’s vest showed Vladimir Putin in a navy cap along with the words “the most polite president”.

The politically-charged Europa League match was the biggest sporting encounter between the nations since Turkey shot down a Russian jet in November.

Turkish side Fenerbahce won 2-0.

Lokomotiv Moscow is now likely to face punishment because European soccer’s governing body UEFA does not allow political statements during matches.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Dmitri Tarasov later defended his behavior.

“It’s my president. I respect him and decided to show that I’m always with him and prepared to give my support,” he told Russian news agency R-Sport.

“What was written on that shirt was everything that I wanted to say,” he added.

Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak described the gesture as “a Putin provocation”.

Relations have been tense since Turkey downed a Russian fighter that it said was in its airspace.

The incident sparked a continuing war of words between Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the conflict in Syria.

Before the match in Istanbul, bottles were thrown at the Lokomotiv team bus as it made its way to the stadium. Turkish police said they made three arrests.

However, UEFA rejected calls to separate Russian and Turkish clubs in European competitions and will also not separate the two nations in the draw for this summer’s European Championship.

Russia has firmly rejected accusations of war crimes over the bombing of hospitals in Syria.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “those who make such statements are not capable of backing them up with proof”.

Up to 50 people were killed in missile attacks on at least four hospitals and two schools in rebel-held areas of northern Syria on February 15.

The UN said the “deliberate” targeting of such facilities “could amount to war crimes”, according to Reuters.

Russia has been accused, by Turkey among others, of being responsible for the attacks.

Meanwhile, a Turkish official on February 16 said Turkey would back a ground operation in Syria but only “with our international allies”.

Yesterday’s strikes hit two hospitals and two schools in Azaz, near the border with Turkey, and at least two hospitals in Maarat al-Numan, further south.

One of the hospitals in Maarat al-Numan was run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which called the attack a “deliberate” strike.

Mego Terzian, president of MSF France, told Reuters “either the [Syrian] government or Russia” was responsible.

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

The Syrian ambassador to Moscow, Riad Haddad, previously said the US was to blame, a claim the Pentagon dismissed as “patently false”.

The strikes came days after world powers – including Russia – agreed to work towards a selective truce in Syria, due to begin later this week.

The UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on February 16, and was planning to meet him again later in the day.

They were due to discuss among other things one of the key priorities of the truce – “unhindered humanitarian access to all besieged areas”. There is no word yet on when aid convoys might reach those areas.

Earlier, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cast doubt over the “cessation of hostilities” plan, saying it did not mean all the parties would put down their weapons.

“So far they say they want a ceasefire within a week,” Bashar al-Assad said in his first comments of February 12 agreement.

“Who is capable of gathering all these conditions and requirements within a week?”

Syrian government forces – backed by Russian air power – are reportedly continuing to make advances around the northern city of Aleppo, capturing the villages of Ahras and Misqan on February 16.


Turkey is accusing Russia of again violating its airspace and warned it would “face consequences” if such infringements continue.

The Turkish foreign ministry said a Russian jet flew into its airspace on the border with Syria on January 29. Moscow described the claim as “baseless propaganda”.

Tensions between Turkey and Russia have been high since November, when Turkey shot down a Russian jet.

Russia has been carrying out air strikes in Syria since September.

It has been targeting forces fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its ally.Russia violates Turkey airspace

In a statement, the Turkish foreign ministry said a Russian SU-34 jet crossed into Turkish airspace at 11:46 local time on January 29, ignoring several warnings made in Russian and English.

It said the ministry had summoned the Russian ambassador in Ankara to “strongly protest at and condemn” the incident.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on January 30 that Russia would “have to face consequences if it keeps up such violations”.

“Such irresponsible steps do not benefit either the Russian Federation, or Russia-NATO relations, or regional and global peace,” he told reporters.

Recep Tyyip Erdogan said he had asked repeatedly for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, without success.

On January 30, NATO – of which Turkey is a member – urged Russia “to act responsibility and to fully respect NATO airspace” and “take all necessary measures to ensure that such violations do not happen again”.

Relations between Russia and Turkey, a vocal opponent of Bashar al-Assad, plummeted after Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian SU-24 on November 24.

Turkey said the plane intruded into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to leave.

Russia insisted the jet had never crossed over from Syrian territory and did not receive any warnings.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin embarked on a war of words and Russia introduced a raft of sanctions designed to damage Turkey’s economy.


Israel has accused Turkey of buying oil from ISIS, thereby funding the militants’ activities.

Speaking in Athens, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said ISIS had “enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time”.

Turkey denies permitting ISIS smuggling, and the US recently rejected Russian allegations that Turkish government officials were in league the militants.

ISIS has captured swathes of Syria and Iraq, including operational oil fields.

Moshe Yaalon told reporters after a meeting with his Greek counterpart: “It’s up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism.

“This is not the case so far. As you know, Daesh [Islamic State] enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended.”Moshe Yaalon on Turkey and ISIS

Moshe Yaalon also alleged that Turkey had “permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back”.

US state department officials last month rejected Russian allegations of Turkish government involvement but a state department spokesman said IS oil was being smuggled into Turkey via middlemen.

Efforts by Israel and Turkey to repair damaged ties already hit a setback this month over demands for compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish activists on an aid ship in 2010.

The Israeli navy had raided a flotilla of ships trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Senior Israeli and Turkish officials met in December to try to repair relations, raising hopes of progress in negotiations to import Israeli natural gas.

At least 10 people have died and other 15 injured in an explosion in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district near the Blue Mosque, the city authorities say.

Foreign tourists are reportedly among those hurt in the blast.

Some reports suggest the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber.

Turkish police have sealed off the area and the authorities are investigating the type of explosive used, the governor’s office said.Sultanahmet explosion January 2016

Norway’s foreign ministry said a Norwegian man injured in the blast was receiving treatment in hospital, Reuters reported.

Germany’s foreign ministry is investigating reports that German citizens have been hurt in the blast, German media reported.

The ministry has on its website urged German tourists in the city to avoid large crowds and tourist attractions and warned that further violent clashes and “terrorist attacks” are expected across Turkey.

In recent months there have been sporadic attacks by a far-left group in Istanbul, while violence has soared between Turkish forces and PKK Kurdish militants, mainly in southeast Turkey, after a ceasefire broke down.

Turkey has also been hit by bomb attacks blamed by prosecutors on ISIS.

Two suicide blasts in the capital Ankara in October killed more than 100 people and more than 30 people were killed in an attack near the border with Syria in July.


Selahattin Demirtas’ call for Kurdish autonomy has been condemned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “treason”.

Recep Tayip Erdogan said, referring to Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP): “What the co-leader has done is treason, provocation.”

At the weekend the HDP and other pro-Kurdish groups called for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east.

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into those comments.

The Turkish military has stepped up operations against the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish self-rule. The army says it has killed more than 200 PKK militants in the latest fighting.Recep Tayyip Erdogan slams Selahattin Demirtas call for Kurdish autonomy

The PKK is regarded as a “terrorist” organization by Turkey, the US and EU.

The HDP won 59 seats in Turkey’s 550-seat parliament in the November 1 elections. It came third, behind Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Speaking on December 29, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Selahattin Demirtas and other Kurdish leaders would be “taught a lesson” by the people and the law.

He accused Selahattin Demirtas of challenging Article 14 of the constitution, which bans activities deemed to “violate the indivisible integrity of the state”.

On December 27, Selahattin Demirtas backed a declaration by a Kurdish umbrella group – the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) – which called for “autonomous regions” and “self-governance bodies”.

The declaration, issued in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, said the “rightful resistance” of Kurds against Turkish state policies “is essentially a demand and struggle for local self-governance and local democracy”.

It called for the “formation of autonomous regions, to involve several neighboring provinces in consideration of cultural, economic and geographic affinities”.

The PKK has been battling the Turkish military for three decades, in a separatist conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.


The black box of the Russian warplane downed by Turkey on the Syrian border last month is damaged, Russian investigators say.

The Su-24 jet’s flight recorder was officially opened in Moscow on December 18 in front of journalists and diplomats.

Nikolai Primak, head of the Russian investigation, said flight information appeared to be missing.

Data from the box could help resolve the dispute over the jet’s location when it was hit.

An analysis is expected to be released next week.

Photo RT

Photo RT

The downing of the jet plunged relations between Russia and Turkey into crisis, with Moscow imposing sanctions in response.

Turkey insists that the fighter jet, from the Russian air contingent deployed in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, ignored warnings to leave its airspace.

Russia says it was shot down within Syrian airspace and President Vladimir Putin vented his anger at Turkey’s government again on Thursday, accusing it of subservience to the US and of “creeping Islamisation”.

Turkey and Russia are heavily involved in Syria but take radically different positions despite both being ostensibly opposed to ISIS.

The Su-24 was shot down by F-16 fighters on November 24.

Both crew members ejected but the pilot was killed, apparently by militants on the ground while the navigator was rescued.

A Russian marine sent to rescue the crew was also killed and a helicopter destroyed on the ground.

Russia has demanded an apology from Turkey and in the meantime has imposed sanctions including a ban on package holidays, which could cost Turkey billions of dollars.


Vladimir Putin has used crude language at the 11th annual news conference to launch a furious new attack on Turkey over the downing of a Russian combat jet last month.

The incident on the Syria-Turkey border was a “hostile act” but Russia was “not the country” to run away, the Russian president said.

“The Turks had decided to lick the Americans in a certain place,” he said.

There was, he said, a “creeping Islamization of Turkey that would have Ataturk rolling in his grave”.

The remark appeared to be aimed at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose AKP party, with its Islamist roots, has been accused of seeking to dismantle the secular state founded by Kemal Ataturk.

Vladimir Putin is now into his third term as president since 2000, battling an economic crisis. Critics say civil liberties have been steadily eroded under his rule.

He remains one of the world’s most recognizable politicians, and has topped the list of The World’s Most Powerful People compiled by Forbes magazine for the third year running.

Russia deployed its air force to Syria in September in support of President Bashar al-Assad and has been carrying out air strikes on his opponents.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Its intervention has been heavily criticized by Turkey, the US and Gulf Arab states.

Vladimir Putin said he saw “no prospect” of ties improving with Turkey, which Russia has put under sanctions, under its current leaders.

He said Turkish officials should have picked up the phone to talk to Russia about their concerns that air strikes in Syria were hitting Turkmen rebels.

Turkey, Vladimir Putin said, had achieved nothing by shooting down the jet while Russia had bolstered its presence in Syria by deploying anti-aircraft missiles.

On America, he said Russia wanted to develop relations “irrespective” of who would become its next president.

Vladimir Putin said his country’s economic crisis had peaked.

While oil prices had fallen sharply, he said, manufacturing had shown slight growth and there was a healthy trade balance in agriculture.

“Our economy depends on oil and gas prices, we expected Brent to be worth $100 dollars per barrel, but then it was 50, but this was an optimistic prediction too, our forecasts have to be amended again,” he said.

“GDP is falling, inflation is 12.3%, incomes, investment are falling too but the peak of the economic crisis is over.”

Vladimir Putin is known for his marathon performances at his news conferences, where he frequently uses hard-hitting, colorful language.

In an interview with state TV on December 16, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was a target in a “big information war [which] has been waged for a long time”.

In 2014, Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference lasted 3 hours and 10 minutes, while the record was set in 2008 at 4 hours 40 minutes.

On other issues raised at the news conference, President Vladimir Putin:

  • Praised Sepp Blatter and suggested the suspended head of FIFA should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Said Russia was against doping as it “destroyed the principle of competitive sport”, and anyone found guilty should be punished
  • Denied Russian regular troops were deployed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine but said there could be “people there who were carrying out certain tasks including in the military sphere”
  • Praised his daughters, saying they lived in Russia and were “not involved in politics or business”
  • Predicted economic growth in Russia the new year of 0.7%, rising to 1.9% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2018, based on oil at $50 a barrel


Vladimir Putin has ordered the Russian military to take “extremely tough” action against any threat to its forces in Syria.

Such targets must be “immediately destroyed”, the Russian president told defense officials in TV comments.

Vladimir Putin did not elaborate on specific threats but Turkey and Russia are currently locked in a dispute over the downing of a Russian jet by Ankara.

Turkey said the bomber had entered its airspace, something denied by Russia.

A Russian pilot was killed in the downing of the Su-24 bomber, as was a marine sent on a rescue mission, badly damaging the normally close ties between Ankara and Moscow.

Vladimir Putin warned against “further provocations” without naming Turkey directly.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Russia began air strikes in Syria in September, at the request of its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In an update on Russian operations, Vladimir Putin said the military was now supporting Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces.

There has been no confirmation from the FSA, who are fighting Bashar al-Assad and have been bombed by Russia.

The Kremlin has denied accusations by the US-led coalition operating in Syria it often targets moderate Syrian opposition, rather than ISIS.

Vladimir Putin also said was important to develop co-operation “with all states who have a real interest in destroying the terrorists”.

That includes “contacts to ensure flight safety with the Israeli air force HQ and the US-led coalition forces,” he said.

In a separate development in Syria, at least 22 people are reported to have died in a triple truck bomb attack in a Kurdish-controlled town in northern Syria.

Syrian opposition politicians meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh have also agreed a statement to guide peace talks with the government.

Iraq’s foreign ministry has summoned the Turkish ambassador to demand the withdrawal of Turkish troops sent to an area near the northern city of Mosul.

According to the Iraqi foreign ministry, the troops had entered Iraq without Baghdad’s consent and that Iraq considered it “a hostile act”.

Turkey says it deployed 150 soldiers in the town of Bashiqa year to train Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting ISIS.Turkish troops Mosul

Mosul has been under the control of ISIS militants since 2014.

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu described the deployment as a routine troop rotation. He said Turkish forces had set up a camp near Mosul a year ago in co-ordination with Iraq.

“This camp was established as a training camp for a force of local volunteers fighting terrorism,” he said.

Earlier, Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi’s office said the move was a “serious breach of Iraqi sovereignty”.

The statement called on Turkey to “respect good neighborly relations and to withdraw immediately from the Iraqi territory”.

Turkey enjoys close relations with autonomous Kurdish regions in Iraq, although it views Syrian Kurdish groups over the border as hostile, analysts say.

The fall of Mosul was a key moment in the rise of ISIS and an Iraqi government offensive to retake the city has been repeatedly put back.


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed Russian claims he is benefiting from the oil trade with ISIS as “slander”.

Russia claims that Turkey is the biggest buyer of oil smuggled from ISIS-held territory, accusing Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of direct involvement.

However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would resign if such allegations were proved.

Russia and Turkey are locked in an angry spat over the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish forces.

Responding to the allegations, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “no one has a right to engage in slander against Turkey by saying that Turkey is buying oil from Daesh [ISIS]”.

Earlier, Russia’s defense ministry displayed satellite images it said showed columns of trucks loaded with oil crossing from ISIS territory in Iraq and Syria into Turkey.Recep Tayyip Erdogan ISIS oil

“According to available information, the highest level of the political leadership of the country, President Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told the briefing in Moscow.

Russia said it was producing only “part of the evidence” for now and did not provide direct proof of their claim that Recep Tayyip Erdogan and family were involved.

The US has also rejected the allegations.

“We just don’t believe that to be true in any way, shape or form,” a State Department spokesman said.

President Vladimir Putin has already accused Ankara of downing the plane on its Syrian border to protect oil supply lines.

Turkey said the Russian SU-24 fighter plane intruded into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to leave.

Russia and Turkey have important economic ties, and in the wake of the incident Moscow imposed visa requirements for Turkish visitors, and placed restrictions on trade with Ankara.

On December 2, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Russia’s response “disproportional” and said Turkey would take their “own measures” if they continued, without specifying what they would be.

Despite the tensions Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said he is prepared to meet Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at a security conference in Serbia this week.

It would be the first time the officials have met since the downing of the Russian fighter jet.


President Barack Obama has urged Turkey and Russia to end their dispute, a week after Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane.

After talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Paris, Barack Obama reaffirmed US support for “Turkey’s right to defend itself and its airspace”.

However, the US president stressed that Russia and Turkey should “de-escalate” their dispute.

“We all have a common enemy,” Barack Obama said, referring to ISIS.Barack Obama on Russian warplane downing

“I want to make sure that we focus on that threat,” he said.

“Turkey is a NATO ally,” Barack Obama added.

“And we’re very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty. We discussed how Turkey and Russia can work together to de-escalate tensions and find a diplomatic path to resolve this issue.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan also spoke to reporters after December 1 meeting. He said his government wanted to reduce tensions and was “determined to keep up the fight” against ISIS.

Barack Obama and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among 150 leaders attending climate change talks in Paris.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his criticism of Russian air strikes against Turkmen rebels in north-western Syria, complaining that the area is being “continuously bombed”.

Moscow says Turkey shot down its SU-24 warplane inside Syria on November 24.

Turkey says the fighter jet entered its airspace and was repeatedly warned to leave before it was downed.

Russia has insisted its warplane did not cross the border and that it gave advance notice of the flight path to the US.

One Russian pilot was killed and the other rescued. A Russian marine was killed during the rescue operation.

Russia is a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its air strikes have targeted rebel groups, including ISIS.

Turkey strongly opposes Bashar al-Assad and has been accused of turning a blind eye to jihadist fighters crossing from its territory into Syria.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked Russia to prove its claim that Ankara shot down a Russian fighter jet in order to protect its oil trade with ISIS.

“If you allege something you should prove it,” he said.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was responding to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that Turkey downed the jet as it was flying over Syria.

Turkey says the warplane entered its airspace and was warned to leave.

One Russian pilot was killed and the other rescued after Russia’s Su-24 bomber was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter on the Syrian border on November 24.

A Russian marine was killed during the rescue operation in north-western Syria.

Russia has insisted the fighter jet did not cross the border and that it gave advance notice of the flight path to the US, Turkey’s ally.

The US has supported Turkey’s version of events.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“You should put your documents on the table if you have any. Let’s see the documents,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

“We are acting with patience. It is not positive for the two countries which have reached a position which could be regarded as a strategic partnership to make emotional statements.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan also vowed to step down if the allegation that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS proved true, suggesting that President Vladimir Putin should do the same if he was wrong.

Russia is a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its air strikes have targeted rebel groups, including ISIS.

Turkey strongly opposes Bashar al-Assad and has been accused of turning a blind eye to jihadist fighters crossing from its territory into Syria.

Until a few months ago, Turkey was reluctant to play an active role in the coalition against ISIS. However, in August it allowed the US-led coalition to begin using its airbase at Incirlik.

Russia has imposed sanctions on Turkey over the downing of the warplane, including restrictions on imports of Turkish food and an end to visa-free travel.

ISIS earns much of its money from illegal oil fields it controls in north-eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Some of the oil is sold to the Assad regime and some is smuggled through middlemen to Turkey. However, the Turkish government has consistently denied being involved in the trade.

“We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory,” Vladimir Putin said at a news conference in Paris on November 30.

Vladimir Putin also accused Turkey of harboring “terrorist organizations” operating “in various regions of Russia, including the North Caucasus”.


Russia is accusing Turkey of shooting down its fighter jet on the Syrian border in order to protect its oil trade with ISIS.

Speaking at international talks on climate change in Paris, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the warplane’s downing a “huge mistake”.

Turkey has denied any ties to ISIS and is part of a US-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against the militant group.

The Turkish government has refused to apologize for the incident.

One Russian pilot was killed and the other rescued following the crash on November 24. Turkey says the plane entered its air space – an accusation Russia denies.

On November 30, the US state department said evidence from Turkish and US sources indicated the aircraft did violate Turkish airspace.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the US wanted to “encourage dialogue now… we need to de-escalate the situation”.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Russia has been carrying out air strikes in Syria, targeting rebels against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including ISIS.

Turkey is a vehement opponent of Bashar al-Assad and has been accused of turning a blind eye to jihadist fighters crossing from its territory into Syria.

Until a few months ago, Turkey was reluctant to play an active role in the coalition against ISIS. However, in August it allowed the US-led coalition to begin using its airbase at Incirlik.

Russia has imposed sanctions on Turkey over the downing of the plane, including restrictions on imports of Turkish food and an end to visa-free travel.

ISIS earns much of its money from illegal sales of oil – however, Turkey has staunchly denied that it is involved in the trade.

“We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory,” Vladimir Putin said at a news conference in Paris on November 30.

The Russian president said his president had received more information to show that ISIS oil was passing through Turkish territory.

Earlier Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu said the incident was unfortunate but that Turkey had a right and duty to protect its airspace and would not apologize.

On November 30, Russia said it would ban mainly imports of agricultural products, vegetables and fruits from Turkey, although it may delay the restrictions for several weeks to “ease inflationary pressure”.

Turkish industrial goods would not be banned for now but future expansion of the sanctions was not ruled out, officials said.

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2014.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will act “patiently, not emotionally” before deciding its response to the economic sanctions.


The body of the Russian pilot killed after his warplane was downed by Turkish forces on the Syrian border has been flown to Ankara, to be met by Russian diplomats.

Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov’s coffin was flown to Ankara from southern Turkey. It is not yet clear when the body will be repatriated to Russia.

Turkish forces shot down the Russian military jet saying it had violated Turkey’s airspace, which Russia denies.

The incident has sparked a furious row between the two countries.

Russia announced economic sanctions against Turkey.

Rebels from Syria’s ethnic Turkmen community opened fire on Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov and his co-pilot as they tried to parachute into government-held territory on November 24.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

The rebels said the Russian pilot had died by the time he reached the ground.

On November 29, Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov’s body was received by Turkish authorities at Hatay airport on the Syrian border. A Turkish honor guard carried the coffin on to an air force plane for the flight to Ankara.

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu added that the pilot’s body had been treated in accordance with Orthodox Christian tradition.

Russian news agencies said the body was accompanied from Hatay to Ankara by the Russian military attaché, and would be met by Ambassador Andrei Karlov in the Turkish capital.

The other pilot in the plane, Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin, survived and was rescued from rebel-held territory in Syria in a special forces operation.

Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin said he wanted to go back to duty and stay in Syria, saying “someone has to pay” for his colleague’s death.

Moscow has announced a package of economic sanctions against Turkey over the Russian warplane downing on the Syrian border on November 24.

The decree signed by President Vladimir Putin covers imports from Turkey, the work of Turkish companies in Russia and any Turkish nationals working for Russian companies.

It also calls for an end to charter flights between Russia and Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to apologize to Russia.

On November 27, Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Moscow of “playing with fire” in its Syria operations. However, on November 28, the Turkish said he was “saddened” by the downing of the Russian fighter jet.Russia economic sanctions Turkey

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2014.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on November 28 that there were close to 90,000 Turkish nationals working in Russia. Taking family members into account, that figure rises to 200,000, he said.

The decree also urges Russian tour operators to refrain from selling packages to Turkey, while Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has warned its citizens against non-essential travel to Russia “until the situation becomes clear”.

On November 27, Russia suspended its visa-free arrangement with Turkey.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked for a meeting with Vladimir Putin, who wants an apology from Turkey before he will agree to talks.

Turkey says the Russian plane had intruded into its airspace and ignored warnings to leave.

Moscow maintains that its SU-24 fighter jet was downed by a missile fired from a Turkish jet inside Syria.

Vladimir Putin has also firmly rejected any suggestion Turkey did not recognize the plane as Russian. He said it was easily identifiable and its co-ordinates had been passed on to Turkey’s ally, the US.

Russia has sent troops and aircraft to Syria to back up the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the civil war.

Turkey, which is a member of NATO and of a US-led coalition in the region, insists Bashar al-Assad must step down before any political solution to the Syrian conflict is found.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is “saddened” by the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish forces on the Syrian border on November 24.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wished the incident had not happened and hoped it would not happen again.

The Turkish president has so far refused to apologize to Russia, accusing Moscow of “playing with fire” in its Syria operations.

His remarks came as Turkey warned its citizens against non-essential travel to Russia.

The Foreign Ministry said visits should be avoided “until the situation becomes clear”, citing problems such as anti-Turkish demonstrations outside Turkey’s embassy in Moscow.

On November 27, Russia suspended its visa-free arrangement with Turkey and is planning to introduce a wide range of economic sanctions.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Vladimir Putin wants an apology from Turkey before he will agree to talks.

The Turkish president again defended the incident and criticized Russia’s operations in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, whom Ankara opposes.

He renewed his call for a meeting with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Paris Climate talks next week, saying that both sides should approach the issue more positively.Recep Tayyip Erdogan Saddened by Russian Warplane Downing

“We wish it hadn’t happened, but it happened,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, quoted by the Associated Press.

“I hope something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Russia has sent troops and aircraft to Syria to back up the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the civil war.

Turkey, which is a member of NATO and of a US-led coalition in the region, insists Bashar al-Assad must step down before any political solution to the Syrian conflict is found.

Both countries say they are trying to rid the region of ISIS, which claimed the recent attacks on Paris, Ankara and also on a Russian airliner.

On November 27, Russia said it had strengthened its anti-aircraft defenses by moving a cruiser towards the coast and deploying new missiles at its main base.

The Moskva cruiser’s long-range air defense system will provide cover for Russian aircraft, as will the S-400 missiles which arrived on November 26.

Turkey says the Russian combat jet had intruded into its airspace and ignored warnings to leave.

Moscow maintains that the downed SU-24 fighter jet was downed by a missile fired from a Turkish jet inside Syria.

Vladimir Putin has also firmly rejected any suggestion Turkey did not recognize the plane as Russian. He said it was easily identifiable and its co-ordinates had been passed on to Turkey’s ally, the US.

On November 26, Russia on said it was drafting a wide-ranging list of economic sanctions against Turkey that would hit food imports and joint investment projects among other things.

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2014.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest statement on the downing of the plane came in an address to supporters in Balikesir, western Turkey, following the murder of a senior Kurdish lawyer, Tahir Elci, in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir on November 28.

Tahir Elci was shot dead by an unknown gunman as he called for an end to violence between Turkey and the Kurdish rebel PKK group, which resumed in July.