Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, expressed strong criticism of the United States on Tuesday for deploying a carrier strike group closer to Israel, suggesting that this move could lead to “significant casualties” in Gaza.
In the wake of a surprise attack by Hamas militants on Israel over the weekend, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Sunday that a carrier strike group, featuring the USS Gerald R. Ford, would be repositioned closer to Israel.
During a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Ankara, Erdogan raised concerns about the purpose behind the U.S. aircraft carrier’s proximity to Israel, questioning the potential consequences of having naval vessels and aircraft in the vicinity. Erdogan asserted that such a deployment could result in airstrikes in Gaza and its surrounding areas, potentially leading to grave casualties.
Erdogan had previously indicated Turkey’s willingness to mediate between Israeli and Palestinian factions in an effort to promote peace and stability.
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This development occurs against the backdrop of Turkey’s historical support for the Palestinian cause, including hosting members of Hamas and endorsing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Turkey is now endeavoring to mend its strained relationship with Israel after years of hostility.