Erdogan says Turkey stands with Lebanon amid rising tensions with Israel

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey stood in solidarity with Lebanon amid rising tensions with Israel and called on countries in the region to support Beirut. Reuters.

Cross-border tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have escalated in recent weeks, fueling fears of an all-out Israel-Hezbollah war. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from areas on both sides of the border after shelling of Israel’s northern border.

In a speech to his AK Party lawmakers, Erdogan said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to expand the Gaza war into the region.

“It seems Israel has now turned its sights on Lebanon after burning Gaza. “We see the West giving support to Israel behind the scenes,” Erdogan said.

“Netanyahu’s plans to expand the war in the region will be disastrous,” he said, adding that Western support for Israel is “pathetic.”

“Turkey stands with the people and the brotherly country of Lebanon. “I appeal to other countries in the region to stand in solidarity with Lebanon,” he said.

Erdogan’s office said late Wednesday that the president spoke by phone with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and reiterated the message that Turkey stands with Lebanon “against Israel’s policies of aggression.”

“President Erdoğan during the conversation that the Israeli occupation must stop as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan also commented on tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, saying the Turkish government sees the risk of the conflict escalating.

Asked about Hezbollah’s threat to Cyprus, the EU member state closest to Lebanon, Biden called on Cyprus to “stay out” of the conflict.

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Fidan said in an interview with private Haberturk television that Turkey has intelligence reports that Cyprus has become a base for military and spy flights of “some countries” over Gaza.

Cyprus has said it is “in no way involved” in the conflict. Cyprus has pressed its EU partners to provide financial aid to Lebanon and recently created a sea route to send humanitarian aid to Gaza.

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