“We will also take the required measures diplomatically for the protection of our brothers and sisters in the place where they are located and for the protection of their human rights in the face of any threat,” he also stated.
However, prominent Syrian Turkmen figure Ali Türkmani challenged Ankara’s claims that Syria’s Turkmen community was being targeted in attacks.
“There is a perception operation that is being waged over the Turkmens,” Türkmani told daily BirGün on Nov. 22. “The regime will of course attempt to maintain its territorial integrity. As such, threats from al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are being targeted [by Russian air strikes]. It’s not correct to say the Turkmens are being targeted,” he added.
The Turkmens are a Turkic-language-speaking ethnic minority who live alongside Arab and Kurdish populations and have traditionally had uneasy relations with the Syrian regimes of Bashar al-Assad and his late father, Hafez al-Assad.
The Turkmens have for decades tried to maintain their language and culture in Syria, resisting Arab assimilation policies of the Damascus government, which in turn has frequently regarded them as a fifth column working in favor of Ankara. They maintain close ties to Turkey, which sees the minority as allies in its push to oust al-Assad from power.