In a TV address, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to “play with fire” over Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane on Syrian border.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said he wanted to meet Vladimir Putin “face-to-face” at climate talks in Paris to resolve the issue.
Vladimir Putin wants an apology from Turkey before he will speak to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Russian president’s aide said.
Russia has suspended its visa-free arrangement with Turkey in the latest of a range of retaliatory measures.
Turkey says the Russian warplane was in its airspace when the decision was taken to shoot it down on November 24 – Russia insists the plane was flying over Syria at the time.
Tensions have been heightened by the fact that the two countries are pursuing different aims in Syria.
Russia has been carrying out air strikes against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad since late September, while Turkey, which is a member of a US-led coalition, insists Bashar al-Assad must step down before any political solution to the crisis is found.
However, all are united in trying to rid the region of ISIS, also known as Daesh.
In a televised speech, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Russia it was “playing with fire to attack the Syrian opposition, who have international legitimacy, under the pretext of fighting against Daesh”.
The Turkish president said Moscow was also playing with fire to use the downing of the jet “as an excuse to make unacceptable accusations against us”, and accused Russians of “mistreating” Turkish citizens who were in the country for a trade fair.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to meet Vladimir Putin face-to-face on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris next week “to bring the issue to a reasonable point. We are disturbed that the issue has been escalated”.
While he has refused to apologize, Recep Tayyip Erdogan did say on November 26 that had Turkey known the plane was Russian, “maybe we would have warned it differently”.
Vladimir Putin has firmly rejected any suggestion Turkey did not recognize the plane as Russian. He said it was easily identifiable and its coordinates had been passed on to Turkey’s ally, the US.
A senior Russian commander went further on November 27 and claimed the Russian warplane was “ambushed” by two Turkish F-15s.
Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Russian and Syrian radar data showed the F-16s had been flying in the area for more than an hour and the plane that fired the missile did so from 1.2 miles inside Syria.
The Russian jet was shot down 3.4 miles south of the Turkish border, he said.
The Turkish military earlier in the week released audio of what it said were repeated warnings to the Russian jet to change its course, and claimed the jet had spent 17 seconds in Turkish air space before being shot down.
Announcing the suspension of a visa-free travel regime with Turkey from January 1, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he believed the Turkish leadership had “crossed the line of what is acceptable”.
On November 26, Russia 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.
Turkey has released an audio recording of what it says were warnings to a Russian military jet before it was shot down on the Syrian border.
“Change your heading south immediately,” a voice says in English.
The Turkish military said it had tried to rescue the SU-24 bomber’s two pilots.
One of the pilots was killed by gunfire as he parachuted from the burning plane.
The other pilot was rescued. He denied claims the warplane had violated Turkish airspace and warnings had been given.
The Russian warplane crashed into a mountainside on Syrian soil after being hit by a missile from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet on November 24.
Tensions have escalated between Turkey and Russia over the incident, with Russian President Vladimir Putin describing it as a “stab in the back” and warning of “serious consequences”.
Moscow later broke off military contacts with Ankara and said it would deploy its most advanced anti-aircraft missile system in Syria to destroy any target that may threaten its warplanes. It also said fighter jets would now escort its bombers during air strikes over Syria.
On November 26, Russia said it would impose stricter controls on food and agriculture imports from Turkey. A Russian official said some 15% of Turkish agricultural produce fell short of Russian standards, with excessive levels of pesticides, nitrates and nitrites.
The US, the EU and the UN have all appealed for calm.
France’s President Francois Hollande is travelling to Moscow on November 26 to shore up support for action against ISIS, which killed 130 people in attacks in Paris on November 13.
The Turkish military said it had given 10 warnings to the Russian plane before it was shot down in Turkish airspace.
Turkish officials also say they did not know the warplane was Russian until they had shot it down.
On November 25, the Turkish military also put out a statement saying it had been in touch with Russian military attaches to explain the rules of engagement that led to the incident and that it had tried to rescue the pilots.
Turkey said it was ready for “all kinds of co-operation” with Moscow over the incident.
The surviving Russian pilot said on November 25 no warning had been given by Turkey.
Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin also stressed there was “no way” the jet could have violated Turkish airspace, as Ankara said it did.
He knew the region “very well”, he said, and the jet had not been in Turkish airspace “even for a second”.
Russia said the pilot was rescued from rebel-held territory in north-eastern Syria in a 12-hour operation involving Russian and Syrian Special Forces.
A Russian marine was also killed and a helicopter destroyed by rebels during the operation.
Syrian rebels released a video apparently showing the dead body of the second pilot, who was identified by Russia as Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov.
Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin was speaking from the Hmeymim airbase, where Russia’s aircraft are based.
Russia has been carrying out air strikes against opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since late September.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defended the action by the country’s military, saying “everyone must respect the right of Turkey to protect its borders”.
He said he did not want to escalate tensions further.
Turkey is a member of NATO. The alliance has backed Turkey’s version of events, although it, too, is calling for “diplomacy and de-escalation” to resolve the situation.
Russia and Turkey have found themselves on opposing sides in Syria’s conflict, with Russia supporting President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey is a staunch critic.
Turkey is also part of the US-led coalition against ISIS.
According to Russia’s ambassador to France, a Russian pilot who went missing after his warplane was shot down by Turkey was rescued by the Syrian army.
Alexander Orlov told Europe 1 radio the pilot had been taken to a Russian base. However, this report has not yet been confirmed by the authorities in Moscow.
The second pilot and a marine involved in their rescue operation were killed, Russia’s defense ministry says.
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said it stood by member Turkey but echoed calls for calm.
He said he backed the Turks’ assessment, but added “diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation”.
Turkey said the warplane had strayed into its airspace but Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted the Su-24 had been hit by an air-to-air missile while flying over Syrian territory.
Vladimir Putin described the downing of the plane as a “stab in the back”.
Breaking off military contacts with Turkey, Russia’s defense ministry said a cruiser equipped with an air defense system would be deployed in the Mediterranean to destroy “any targets representing a potential danger” for Russian forces in Syria.
Russian bombers carrying out air strikes over Syria will now be escorted by fighters, the military said.
Russian defense official Lt-Gen Sergey Rudskoy said the two pilots were shot at from the ground as they parachuted from their burning plane – one of them was killed.
There have been various reports about the fate of the second airman.
Sergey Rudskoy also said a rescue team using two Mi-8 helicopters had attempted to rescue the two pilots.
“During the operation, one of the helicopters came under small-arms fire, was damaged and made an emergency landing on neutral territory,” he said.
“One naval infantryman serving under contract was killed.”
Sergey Rudskoy said the rest of the rescue team were safely evacuated from the area to Russia’s Humaymim air base near Latakia in Syria.
Syrian rebels say they blew up the helicopter shortly after it landed with an anti-tank missile, releasing footage of the attack.
Russians have been advised not to visit Turkey – a popular tourist destination – with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying the terror threat there was no less than in Egypt, where a bomb attack brought down a Russian passenger plane last month.
One of Russia’s largest tour operators, Natali Tours, has suspended package holidays to Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his forces had been acting within their rules of engagement.
“Everyone must respect the right of Turkey to protect its borders,” he said.
The US, the EU and the UN have all appealed for calm.
President Barack Obama has assured his Turkish counterpart in a phone call of US support for his country’s right to defend its sovereignty.
Russia and Turkey have found themselves on opposing sides in Syria’s conflict, with Russia supporting its ally President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey calling for his ousting.
Turkey has reportedly shot down a Russian warplane on the border with Syria.
According to Russia’s defense ministry, a Su-24 had crashed on Syrian territory after being hit by fire from the ground, and that its pilots had managed to eject.
However, Turkish military officials said Turkish F-16s had shot down the plane after repeatedly warning its pilots they were violating Turkish airspace.
Video showed the warplane crashing in a rebel-held area of Latakia province.
It is the first time a Russian military aircraft has crashed in Syria since Moscow launched airstrikes against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in late September.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the incident as “very serious”, but cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions.
The NATO military alliance, to which Turkey belongs, said it was following the situation “closely” and was in contact with the Turkish authorities.
The Russian defense ministry confirmed on November 24 that a Russian Su-24 had “crashed on Syrian territory, having been hit from the ground” while it was flying at an altitude of 6,000m [19,685ft].
“Efforts are being made to ascertain what happened to the pilots. According to preliminary reports, the pilots have managed to self-eject,” the ministry was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
The ministry stressed that “throughout its flight, the aircraft remained exclusively above Syrian territory”, adding: “Objective monitoring data shows it.”
However, the Turkish military said two F-16s on patrol had fired on an unidentified aircraft at 09:24 local time after warning it 10 times over five minutes about violating Turkish airspace over the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province.
It noted that the F-16s had intervened “in accordance with the rules of engagement”, which were changed after Syria shot down a Turkish plane in 2012.
According to th Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jet had crashed in the mountainous Jabal Turkmen area of Latakia, where air strikes and fighting between rebels and Syrian government forces had been reported earlier on Tuesday.
Russian military helicopters were searching for the pilots near the crash site in the predominantly Turkmen Bayir Bucak area, Turkey’s Dogan news agency reported.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV quoted an ethnic Turkmen rebel group as saying it had captured one of the Su-24’s two pilots and were “looking for the other”.
A video posted online by rebels meanwhile appeared to show a Russian pilot immobile on the ground, either badly wounded or dead.
Russian aircraft have flown hundreds of sorties over northern Syria since September. Moscow says they have targeted only “terrorists”, but activists say its strikes have mainly hit Western-backed rebel groups.
Turkey, a vehement opponent of Syria’s president, has warned against violations of its airspace by Russian and Syrian aircraft.
Last month, Ankara said Turkish F-16s had intercepted a Russian jet that crossed its border and two Turkish jets had been harassed by an unidentified Mig-29.
The Turkish foreign ministry also summoned the Russian ambassador last week to warn him that there would be “serious consequences” if the Russian air force did not immediately stop bombing “civilian Turkmen villages” in Bayir Bucak.
At least five people have been killed in three separate attacks in Turkey’s south-east and Istanbul.
Four police officers were killed by a bomb on a road in Sirnak province and shortly after, gunmen opened fire on a military helicopter, killing a soldier.
Tension between the Turkish government and Kurdish militants has been rising.
One of the Istanbul attacks, on the US consulate, was carried out by two women and linked to a far-left group.
One of the female assailants in Monday’s attack was wounded and detained, and a rifle and other weaponry were seized, Istanbul’s governor said in a statement.
She is said to be a member of a radical Marxist group, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front (DHKP-C).
The DHKP-C previously claimed a 2013 suicide attack on the US embassy in the capital, Ankara.
The US consulate said in a tweet that it was closed until further notice.
In the other attack in Istanbul, on a police station in the district of Sultanbeyli, a car bomb was detonated, injuring 10 people, including three police officers.
Two suspected militants were killed in ensuing clashes with police and an injured police officer died later in hospital, reports say.
Following the attack on the military helicopter in Sirnak province, Turkish helicopters bombed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in retaliation.
A ceasefire in the long-running conflict with the group appeared to disintegrate in July, when Turkey began bombing PKK camps in northern Iraq, at the same time as launching air strikes on IS militants.
PKK leader Cemil Bayik has accused Turkey of trying to protect ISIS by attacking Kurdish fighters.
Kurdish fighters – among them the PKK – have secured significant victories against ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey, like a number of Western countries, considers the PKK a terrorist organization.
Two soldiers have been killed and four others injured in a car bomb attack on a military convoy in south-eastern Turkey, Turkish officials say.
The explosion late on July 25 happened in the town of Lice in Diyarbakir, the province governor’s office said.
The attack came after Turkey bombed Kurdish separatist camps in northern Iraq – the first such strikes since a peace process began in 2012.
No group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack.
The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) threatened to break off a two-year ceasefire following Saturday’s raids.
There has been a wave of unrest after a suicide bomb in Suruc, blamed on so-called ISIS killed 32 people – mainly university students planning to carry out aid work in Kobane, Syria.
It has included protests and confrontations with police in Ankara and Istanbul.
The PKK’s military wing killed two Turkish police officers on July 22, claiming they had collaborated with ISIS in the bombing in Suruc.
The US has called on both sides to avoid violence, but stressed that Turkey has the right to defend itself against attacks by Kurdish rebels.
The Turkish government has failed to stop ISIS, seeing the group as a useful tool against its Kurdish enemy, the PKK.
Sporadic attacks including one on a police station in Istanbul have raised the specter of a return to conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdish separatists that blighted the country for 30 years and killed 40,000 people.
Turkey’s military has attacked ISIS positions in Syria and Kurdish PKK militants in northern Iraq to defend the country’s security, Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu announces.
Ahmet Davutoglu added that 590 suspected ISIS and PKK members had been arrested.
It follows a week which saw a bomb attack blamed on ISIS kill 32 people in the Turkish town of Suruc.
Subsequent clashes with ISIS militants on the Turkey-Syria border led to the death of a Turkish soldier.
The PKK’s military wing said it had killed two Turkish police officers on July 22, claiming they had collaborated with ISIS in the bombing in Suruc, which targeted left-wing activists.
A government statement on July 25 said the air force had hit PKK shelters, bunkers, storage facilities and other “logistic points” in northern Iraq, including the Qandil mountains where the PKK’s high command is based.
It did not give details of what the jets had targeted in their attacks on ISIS in Syria.
Turkey’s military had also shelled Islamic State and PKK positions from across the Turkish border, the statement said.
Speaking to reporters on July 25, PM Ahmet Davutoglu said: “Unfortunately Turkey is surrounded by a ring of fire.
“In such an atmosphere, Turkey tries to keep her democracy and development alive… these operations have carried a message to the countries in the region and to international circles: whatever happens in Syria and Iraq, in our border regions, we will not allow them to threaten Turkey’s security and will not hesitate to take necessary measures.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said areas of northern Syria cleared of ISIS fighters would become natural “safe zones”.
Turkey has also said it will let the US use a key airbase to attack ISIS targets.
The group has been fighting Turkey for an autonomous homeland for the Kurds for decades.
In a statement on its website quoted by Reuters news agency, the PKK said: “The truce has no meaning any more after these intense air strikes by the occupant Turkish army.”
The Turkish government has faced criticism at home and abroad for not doing enough against ISIS, despite being part of the international coalition fighting it.
The first round of anti-ISIS air strikes on July 24 marked the first time Turkey had confirmed air strikes against targets in Syria since ISIS began its advance through Iraq and Syria in 2013.
The agreement to let the US use the Incirlik airbase, following months of negotiations, was made in a phone call between President Barack Obama and his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – but has yet to be approved by the Turkish cabinet.
The Turkish government could allow the US to step up air strikes against ISIS, as it is closer to northern Syria and Iraq than the Gulf, which currently serves as a launch-pad for bombing missions.
Mustafa Akinci has won the presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Standing as an independent, leftist Mustafa Akinci, 67, won 60.3% of the votes in Sunday’s runoff, according to election commission figures.
He defeated incumbent conservative President Dervis Eroglu, a conservative elected five years ago.
Mustafa Akinci has said he would work with renewed urgency to find a peace deal on Cyprus after four decades of division.
The island was divided in 1974 by a Turkish invasion staged in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup staged to secure a union with Greece.
Peace negotiations came to a halt last October, when Greek Cypriots walked out in protest over Turkish rights to explore natural gas off northern Cyprus.
Correspondents say that Mustafa Akinci is viewed as a moderate who can push forward the stalled reunification talks that are expected to resume next month.
The new president capitalized on a wave of discontent against Dervis Eroglu, who failed to unite right-wing supporters.
“We achieved change and my policy will be focused on reaching a peace settlement,” Mustafa Akinci told thousands of joyful supporters at a victory rally.
“This country cannot tolerate any more wasted time.”
Mustafa Akinci said that he had already spoken to Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and that they had agreed to meet soon.
“[Nicos] Anastasiades and I are [of] the same generation… If we can’t solve this now, it will be a tremendous burden on future generations,” he said, pointing out that the strength of his victory was a riposte to those who accused him of selling out to Greek Cypriots.
Mustafa Akinci earned his political colors during a 14-year term as mayor of the Turkish-Cypriot half of the capital Nicosia from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, whose empire was disintegrating.
Many of the victims were civilians deported to barren desert regions where they died of starvation and thirst. Thousands also died in massacres.
Armenia says up to 1.5 million people were killed. Turkey says the number of deaths was much smaller.
Most non-Turkish scholars of the events regard them as genocide – as do more than 20 states, including France, Germany, Canada and Russia, and various international bodies including the European Parliament.
Turkey rejects the term “genocide”, maintaining that many of the dead were killed in clashes during World War One, and that many ethnic Turks also suffered in the conflict.
The centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, one of the bloodiest of World War One, is marked with series of events held around the world.
Princes William and Harry have met relatives of veterans on HMS Bulwark, ahead of a service on the Turkish peninsula.
Australia, New Zealand and Turkey leaders will also attend the events.
About 131,000 people – 45,000 Allied forces and 86,000 from Turkey – died in the campaign, which began in 1915.
The fatalities included about 25,000 British forces, 10,000 from France and 10,000 from Australia and New Zealand.
The series of events – to mark the 100th anniversary of the landings – will begin with a Commonwealth and Irish commemoration.
Warships from Allied nations will fire a salute in honor of the sailors who died.
There will also be an international ceremony organized by Turkey and a service to mark France’s participation in the battle.
The events will commemorate the World War One campaign when allied forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in modern-day western Turkey – then part of the Ottoman Empire – in April 1915.
However, the invasion failed, with the Allied forces unable to advance more than a few miles inland.
A bloody stalemate ensued which lasted until Allied troops evacuated the peninsula eight months later in January 1916.
Events will continue on April 25 with services to mark ANZAC Day, which is widely marked in Australia and New Zealand.
The centenary is expected to be the largest ever commemoration of the battle, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Australian PM Tony Abbott, New Zealand PM John Key and Prince Charles leading the ceremonies.
Thousands of Australians, New Zealanders and Turks are also expected to make the journey to Gallipoli for the anniversary, including relatives of those who fought and died at Gallipoli.
There are no longer any surviving veterans of the campaign.
In London, Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh – who is patron of the Gallipoli Association – and Prince William will be joined by senior government and military figures to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Turkish net companies have been ordered to block access to social media sites to stop the sharing of photos of Mehmet Selim Kiraz, who was taken hostage during last week’s armed siege in Istanbul.
A Turkish court has told Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more than 150 other sites to remove images taken during the siege.
The block on Facebook and Twitter was lifted after the two social networks complied with the court order.
Currently, YouTube remains blocked in Turkey.
Before imposing the blocks on the websites, Turkish authorities had moved to stop newspapers printing the images.
The newspapers were accused by the government of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” for the DHKP-C group that was reportedly behind the attack on the courthouse. The DHKP-C is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and US.
The siege ended with the gunmen and their hostage being killed when police stormed the building in a rescue bid.
Mehmet Selim Kiraz was apparently taken hostage because he headed an investigation into the death of a boy during anti-government protests that took place in 2013.
The pictures showing attackers holding a gun to Mehmet Selim Kiraz’s head were being widely shared on social media, leading authorities to act, reported Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
“The wife and children of prosecutor Kiraz have been deeply upset. The images are everywhere,” a senior Turkish official told the Reuters news agency.
In total, 166 websites which shared the images were blocked by the court order.
YouTube published the text of the court ruling on its website saying an “administration measure” had been enacted by Turkey’s telecoms authority. It said it was seeking ways to restore access.
Facebook was also subject to the same block but it is believed the restrictions on it were lifted because it removed the images before the expiration of a deadline imposed by the court. Twitter reacted more slowly and access to the messaging system was blocked for several hours on April 6.
A Turkish husband has been fined for saying “I don’t love you” to his wife, the Daily Sabah website reports.
According to the website, the spouses, who are divorcing, both sought compensation from each other over insults apparently hurled during their marriage.
A lower court had ruled they were both as bad as one another, but the Supreme Court of Appeal said the man’s remark about not loving his wife amounted to “emotional violence”, and ordered him to pay her compensation.
The woman said her husband’s comment had left her “emotionally wrecked”, and that he had often left the marital home. For his part, the man said his wife had repeatedly “cursed” him.
Turkey has been trying to crack down on all forms of violence against women, but the publication points out that emotional and psychological abuse can be difficult to prove.
A 2014 survey of university-educated women working in white-collar jobs found that 40% of respondents had experienced that type of abuse at least once, the Hurriyet Daily News reported in December.
A Turkish military convoy have entered into northern Syria and evacuated a historic Ottoman tomb and the soldiers guarding it.
Turkey’s PM Ahmet Davutoglu said the remains of Suleyman Shah would be moved elsewhere in Syria.
He said troops had destroyed the tomb’s complex, apparently to prevent it from being used by Islamic State (ISIS) militants.
Turkey considers the shrine be to sovereign territory.
Suleyman Shah was grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman the first.
“We had given the Turkish armed forces a directive to protect our spiritual values and the safety of our armed forces personnel,” Ahmet Davutoglu said in televised remarks.
Earlier, in a series of tweets, Ahmet Davutoglu hailed the armed forces for carrying out a “highly successful” operation amid the “inherent risks” of conflict in Syria.
He said the remains had been moved to Turkey but would soon be rehoused in an area of Syria under Turkish military control, closer to the Turkish border.
The Turkish flag had already been raised over the site, Ahmet Davutoglu said.
There were no clashes with ISIS during the operation, but one soldier died in an accident, he added.
The operation began on Saturday at about 21:00 local time and ended on Sunday morning.
A large convoy, including 600 troops and almost tanks and armored vehicles, passed through Kobane – the city which Syrian Kurdish fighters retook last month from ISIS – and travelled some 20 miles south to the tomb on the banks of the Euphrates river.
Suleyman Shah is believed to have drowned in the river.
The tomb has been permanently guarded by a contingent of about 40 soldiers, who rotate periodically. The site is part of Turkish territory, according to a treaty signed in 1921.
The Turkish convoy was believed to be larger and more heavily armed than usual because of recent heavy fighting between the Kurdish militia and Syrian rebel groups against IS militants.
Since driving ISIS out of Kobane in January, the Kurdish Popular Protection Units and rebels have taken a number of surrounding villages.
They are now said to be only 15 miles from Tal Abyad – the strategically important border town east of Kobane that is used by ISIS militants to cross into Turkey.
ISIS has seized large swathes in Syria and Iraq, proclaiming a caliphate.
Pope Francis is due to arrive in Istanbul meet Muslim and Christian leaders of the city on the second day of his three-day visit to Turkey.
Istanbul, previously known Constantinople, was Byzantine’s capital until the Ottoman conquest in 1453.
Pope Francis will also visit a mosque and hold mass at a Catholic cathedral.
Yesterday the pontiff called for an interfaith dialogue to counter fanaticism and fundamentalism during a visit to the Turkish capital Ankara.
He also called for a renewed Middle East peace push, saying the region had “for too long been a theatre of fratricidal wars”.
Pope Francis’ trip is only the fourth visit by a pontiff to Turkey. Most of the country’s 80 million citizens are Muslims, and there are about 120,000 Christians.
The Pope will begin his visit to Istanbul with a visit to Hagia Sofia – for almost 1,000 years the most important Orthodox cathedral, then for nearly five centuries a mosque under the Ottomans, currently a museum.
He will then hold meetings with Muslim leaders at the Blue Mosque, one of the greatest masterpieces of Ottoman architecture.
Later in the day, Pope Francis will celebrate mass at the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit and then will meet Bartholomew I – the “first among equals” of the Orthodox Church.
Correspondents say Pope Francis and Bartholomew I have a strong personal relationship, and discussions are expected to focus on healing the schism in the Christian Church that divided it between Rome and Constantinople.
In Ankara, Pope Francis stressed the need for reconciliation and dialogue between the religions.
Pope Francis will arrive in Turkey for what is billed as a historic visit to promote religious dialogue in the country.
The pontiff is to be greeted in Ankara by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and will later travel to Istanbul to meet the head of the Orthodox Christian church.
This is only the fourth visit by a pope to Muslim-majority Turkey.
During his trip, Pope Francis is likely to touch on humanitarian issues, such as the plight of Syrian refugees.
The three-day papal visit comes as Islamic State insurgents have captured swathes of neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Turkey is now home to at least 1.6 million people from Syria, most of them living close to the border.
In an interview on the eve of his visit, Pope Francis made his feelings on the Syrian conflict known,.
The pontiff told an Israeli newspaper that the persecution of Christians in the region is “the worst” it has been since Christianity’s earliest days.
Vatican officials say religious tolerance will be high on the agenda when Pope Francis meets President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam – and Mehmet Gormez, Turkey’s top cleric.
In Istanbul, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmed mosque, the 17th-Century place of worship popularly known as the Blue Mosque.
The pontiff is also due to sign a joint declaration with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians, on trying to bridge the divides between Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity.
Although most of Turkey’s 80 million citizens are Muslims, there are about 120,000 Christians in the country – once the centre of the Orthodox Christian world.
Turkey has decided to close some of its border crossings with Syria after about 130,000 Kurdish refugees entered the country over the weekend.
On September 21, Turkish security forces clashed with Kurds protesting in solidarity with the refugees. Some protesters were reportedly trying to go to Syria to fight Islamic State (ISIS).
Most refugees are from Kobane, a town threatened by the advancing militants.
ISIS has taken over large swathes of Iraq and Syria in recent months.
Before the latest influx, there were already more than one million Syrian refugees in Turkey. They have fled since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.
Some of the new arrivals are being sheltered in overcrowded schools, as Turkey struggles to cope with the influx.
On September 19, Turkey opened a 19-mile section of the border to Syrians fleeing the town of Kobane, also known as Ayn al-Arab.
Turkey has decided to close some of its border crossings with Syria after about 130,000 Kurdish refugees entered the country over the weekend
However, on September 22, only two out of nine border posts in the area remained open, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.
Clashes broke out on Sunday after a demonstration by Kurds on the Turkish side of the border.
Some protesters threw stones at security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon. There were no reports of serious injuries.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a banned militant group that fought a civil war for autonomy within Turkey for decades, has called on Kurds to join the fight against ISIS.
The Syrian conflict has reawakened old hostilities and shaken a fragile peace between Kurds and Turkish authorities.
PKK-affiliated forces have been battling IS in northern Iraq for months.
ISIS is closing in on the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobane, having seized dozens of villages in the area in recent days.
It began the assault on Tuesday, and by Sunday militants were about 6 miles away, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Reports suggest that IS has used heavy weaponry, including tanks, in the attack.
The US has said it will attack the group in Syria as part of a strategy to destroy it, though so far it has carried out air strikes against ISIS only in Iraq.
Attacking ISIS in Syria is considered more complicated, partly because of the strength of the country’s air defense system and because foreign strikes do not have the approval of President Bashar al-Assad.
President Barack Obama has previously ruled out the involvement of US ground troops, and has instead promised to provide arms and training to local forces fighting against ISIS.
According to Turkish officials, some 45,000 mainly Syrian Kurds have crossed into Turkey in the past 24 hours as Islamic State (ISIS) militants advance in northern Syria.
Turkey opened its border on September 19 to Syrians who had fled the Kurdish town of Kobane in fear of an IS attack.
Activists say some 300 Kurdish fighters have crossed into Syria from Turkey to help defend the strategic town.
ISIS controls large areas of Syria and Iraq and has seized dozens of villages around Kobane, also called Ayn al-Arab.
Turkey – which shares a border with Iraq and Syria – has taken in more than 847,000 refugees since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began three years ago.
Turkish Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus confirmed on Saturday that 45,000 refugees had crossed the border within a 24-hour period.
“No country in the world can take in 45,000 refugees in one night, bring them here unharmed and find them a shelter without a problem,” he said.
Some 45,000 mainly Syrian Kurds have crossed into Turkey in the past 24 hours as ISIS militants advance in northern Syria
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 300 Kurdish fighters had joined Syrian Kurdish ranks in the Kobane area to fend off the IS advance. The activist group did not specify which Kurdish group the fighters belonged to.
“Islamic State sees Kobane like a lump in the body, they think it is in their way,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdulrahman said.
Syrian activists say IS has seized as many as 60 villages surrounding Kobane since fighting began earlier this week.
The head of Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union, Mohammed Saleh Muslim, has appealed for international assistance in the battle against the jihadists.
“Kobane is facing the fiercest and most barbaric attack in its history,” Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.
“Kobane calls on all those who defend humane and democratic values… to stand by Kobane and support it immediately. The coming hours are decisive,” he added.
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