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Tensions escalate after Russian journalists held in Turkey

TENSIONS escalated between Turkey and Russia today with the detention of four journalists from the Russian Sputnik news agency in Ankara and Istanbul.

Three journalists were held when they attended a police station in the Turkish capital to report what appeared to be co-ordinated attacks on their homes by Turkish nationalists on Saturday night.

Hours later Sputnik editor-in-chief for Turkey Mahir Boztepe was held during a police raid on the agency’s Istanbul office and taken to the General Directorate of Security. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Turkey today of the need for a speedy resolution to the matter, ensuring the journalists’ safety in an intervention that prompted their release.

Turkey initially denied holding the trio, but they were freed later today after the Ankara prosecutors’ office said that they had committed no crime.

Mr Boztepe was also released from police custody in Istanbul, his wife reported.

The incidents occurred after scores of Turkish soldiers were killed in a Russian air strike in Syria’s north-western Idlib province on Thursday.

Turkey has maintained a presence in Syria where, as previously reported in the Morning Star, it has been giving military support and equipment to jihadist forces. Nato’s second-largest army has launched two illegal invasions and occupations of northern Syria and is accused of war crimes during an ethnic-cleansing operation against the region’s Kurdish population.

Western powers have been criticised for turning a blind eye to Turkey’s military operations as they seek regime change. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also held a long-term desire to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but has been stymied by Russia’s support for the Damascus government.

On Saturday Mr Erdogan asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to “step aside” to allow Turkish forces and their jihadist allies to deal with Mr Assad.

Two Syrian jets were downed today as Turkey intensified its attacks.

Turkey’s opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which has opposed the war, insisted that the government is politically responsible for the attack and should be held accountable. It called for a parliamentary session to debate the policy of war in Syria.

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