Ankara (Reuters) – Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday criticised the United States for moving a carrier strike group closer to Israel, saying that it would commit “serious massacres” in Gaza.
Following a surprise attack by Hamas militants on Israel on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Sunday that the U.S. will be moving a carrier strike group, which includes the USS Gerald R. Ford, closer to Israel.
“What will the aircraft carrier of the U.S. do near Israel, why do they come? What will boats around and aircraft on it will do? They will hit Gaza and around, and take steps for serious massacres there,” Erdogan said in a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Ankara.
Erdogan has previously said that Turkey was ready to mediate between Israeli and Palestinian forces to ensure calm.
The conflict comes as Turkey, which has backed Palestinians in the past, hosted members of Hamas, and supported a two-state solution to the conflict, works to repair ties with Israel after years of animosity.