Pro-gov’t Turkish daily accuses Qatar’s Al Jazeera of spreading anti-Turkey propaganda

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) is welcomed by Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (L) at Doha International Airport at the start of his official visit to Qatar on July 24, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE /

Turkey’s pro-government English language newspaper Daily Sabah ran an editorial on Monday accusing Qatar’s Al Jazeera news network of spreading anti-Turkey propaganda in their coverage of Ankara’s Syria incursion.

“Al Jazeera English, Qatar’s flagship news channel, has been spreading anti-Turkey propaganda,” the editorial said, “Under the pretext of independent and objective journalism, the network has succumbed to bias and fake news to misportray known terrorists and fugitives from law as oppressed activists.”

Ankara on Oct. 9 launched a military operation, called Operation Peace Spring, targeting Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria to create a safe zone for relocating Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

Turkey deems the Kurdish militia in Syria as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization that has waged a decades-long, bloody insurgency in Turkey’s Southeast.

The operation was halted in mid-October after a series of talks with US and Russian leaders.

Foreign outlets, including Al Jazeera, ran a number of articles accusing Turkey and its proxy the Free Syrian Army of committing war crimes against Kurds in Syrian territory.

“Jumping on the Western media’s Turkey-bashing bandwagon, the network smeared last month’s Turkish operation into northeastern Syria with Operation Peace Spring with the PKK terrorist organization’s talking points,” the editorial said.

Daily Sabah, an English service of one of Turkey’s largest pro-government media groups, has promoted the government line by featuring President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close circle as columnists, including İbrahim Kalın, the presidential spokesperson.

“The Turkey-Qatar partnership’s future is at stake. Before it is too late, Al Jazeera needs to weed out all individuals seeking to poison that alliance behind the smokescreen of independent journalism. Until the network takes necessary steps, the Turkish government must consider Al Jazeera English a hostile outlet,” it added.

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