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A FURIOUSLY backtracking US Vice-President Joe Biden apologised to Turkey at the weekend after making surprisingly frank remarks about the growth of jihadist group Isis.
Mr Biden told Havard University students last week that Middle Eastern US allies such as Turkey and the United Arab Emirates had inadvertently strengthened extremist groups in their bid to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He said the states had supplied anyone willing to fight Mr Assad with millions of dollars and thousands of tonnes of weapons.
“Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.
“We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them,” he said.
But Mr Biden irked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by telling students that his “old friend” had told him: “You were right. We let too many people through. Now they are trying to seal their border.”
The Turkish leader denied ever making such comments, saying that the US Vice-President “will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions.”
Mr Erdogan added: “Foreign fighters have never entered Syria from our country. They may come to our country as tourists and cross into Syria, but no one can say that they cross in with their arms.”
Turkey has prevented 6,000 suspected jihadis from entering the country and deported another 1,000, he claimed.
Mr Biden phoned up his chum and “apologised for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of Isis,” the White House said on Saturday.
Turkish MPs voted on Thursday to expand military operations in Iraq and Syria and allow foreign forces to launch attacks from the country.
Many have accused Turkey of collaborating with and supplying the militants.
Mikail Cicek, who lives on the Turkish side of the border, told Etkin News agency that a convoy of 10 large military vehicles crossed into Syria on Saturday evening, driving towards Isis positions before returning half an hour later.
The UAE asked yesterday for a “formal clarification” of Mr Biden’s comments, saying they were “far from the truth.”
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