Turkey is not moving away from NATO by purchasing Russian S-400 missiles, according to Turkey's defense minister.
"Turkey fulfills all NATO requirements. We’re not moving away from NATO by purchasing S-400 missiles. This is a supply issue," Hulusi Akar told a military graduation ceremony in the capital Ankara on Thursday.
“We strongly reject linking this matter with the [U.S.] F-35. We’re partners with nine countries on the F-35 project,” he added.
Turkey expects its allies, especially the U.S., to behave with common sense and evaluate the issues objectively, he said.
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have simmered over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems.
Washington claims the purchase will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fighter jet program and has threatened sanctions.
Turkey has said there is no conflict between the S-400 and the F-35 and has called for a working group to clarify the issue.
‘They got punishment that they deserved’
Speaking on the heavy sentences handed down this week to ex-officers who took part in the 2016 defeated coup, Akar hailed the verdicts.
"These traitors [who infiltrated the General Staff] got the punishment that they deserved from the Turkish justice."
Seventeen top putschists on Thursday got 141 aggravated life sentences each for their involvement in the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Turkey also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
On Turkey's current Operation Claw in northern Iraq, near the border, Akar said that the PKK terrorist group is beginning to realize that their terror campaign will accomplish nothing.
"By neutralizing the last terrorists, we will save our nation from terror and thereby once again ensure the nation’s peace and security by keeping our borders safe,” he said.
“Operation Claw shows that the so-called leaders of the PKK terror organization understand they will get nowhere through terrorism."
The Turkish Armed Forces launched Operation Claw against the PKK in Hakurk, northern Iraq on May 27.
The military offensive aims to neutralize terrorists in the area. It began with artillery shelling, supported by airstrikes and commando operations.
Authorities often use the word "neutralized" in statements to imply terrorists in question surrendered or were killed or captured.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including many women and children.
*Writing by Burak Bir
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