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Erdogan caught between Trump, Putin in Syria war

The Turkish government's spokesman says al-Bab will be the last stop of the Turkish army in Syria, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish forces will march on to Raqqa.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting with the German chancellor at the Presidential Palace on February 2, 2017 in Ankara.

Merkel on Thursday said she had raised concerns over freedom of expression in Turkey in bilateral talks in Ankara with President Erdogan.  / AFP / ADEM ALTAN        (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

On Feb. 9, when I heard reports that a Russian aircraft had accidentally bombed a Turkish position in al-Bab, killing four soldiers and wounding 10 others, I did not immediately think that it might not have been an accident. I thought that way because I am generally immune to the conspiracy theories that are rampant in Turkey, just as they are in most Middle Eastern countries.

The Turkish army quickly issued a communique saying the bombing was an "accident." However, there was no mention of an “accident” in the Russian version that came later. In the Russian version, there was no mention of “regret” either. A day later, the Russians were a bit more articulate. They issued another statement, implicitly putting the blame on the Turkish side for having given the wrong coordinates on the deployment of Turkish troops, resulting in the casualties.

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