MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - US Vice President Joe Biden made a phone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday to apologize for his recent remarks, when he claimed that Ankara allowed foreign fighters to cross Turkey’s border into Syria, leading to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) militant group, The Huffington Post reported.
On Thursday, during his speech at Harvard University, Joe Biden said Erdogan had admitted that Turkey made mistakes by helping violent militants in Syria.
Erdogan denied the fact that thousands of militants could have crossed the border onto the Syrian and Iraqi territories to join the Islamists.
“Foreign fighters never crossed into Syria from our country… They would cross into Syria from Turkey on tourist passports, but nobody can claim that they have crossed with arms,” Erdogan claimed as quoted by The New York Times.
Turkish leader then demanded Biden’s apology for his comments, stating that Ankara would not accept brief, indirect statements.
The United States has been trying to get Turkey involved in its anti-IS military campaign for several weeks.
On Thursday, the Turkish parliament finally approved the deployment of Turkish troops in cross-border military operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Prior to the decision, Turkish Minister of Defense Ismet Yilmaz said that the troops will not take any immediate action upon receiving the permission.
In the coming week, US retired General John Allen, who is currently Washington's anti-IS coordinator, is to visit Turkey to urge it to take a more active role in the fight against the IS, according to the Financial Times.
IS, previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting alongside the other rebel groups against the government forces in the Syrian civil war, before launching an offensive in Iraq in June 2014.
Later in June, the group announced the establishment of an Islamic caliphate on the territories that had fallen under its control and claimed religious authority over all Muslims globally.