A fistfight erupted in the Turkish parliament on Wednesday during a speech by an opposition legislator who earlier accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of disrespecting Turkish soldiers who died in Syria.
Dozens of parliamentarians joined the brawl, some climbing on top of desks to throw punches, while others tried to stop the fighting, according to video footage of the brouhaha.
Some legislators fell to the ground during the fray, Turkey’s Haberturk television reported.
Engin Ozkoc, a legislator from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), accused the president at a news conference and later in tweets of disrespecting soldiers killed last week in Syria’s Idlib region.
Ozkoc called Erdogan “dishonourable, ignoble, low and treacherous”.
— Cumhuriyet (@cumhuriyetgzt) March 4, 2020
He also accused the president of sending the children of Turkey‘s people to fight while Erdogan’s own offspring allegedly avoided long-term military service.
During a speech to members of his party, Erdogan earlier accused the opposition of being “dishonourable, ignoble, low and treacherous” for questioning Turkey’s military involvement in Syria’s northwest province.
The speaker of Parliament, Mustafa Sentop, condemned the statement by the opposition legislator.
Prosecutors launched an investigation into a suspected insult of the president, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
At least 59 Turkish soldiers have been killed in Idlib since Turkey began its military campaign in Syria’s last rebel bastion, where a Russia-backed government offensive has forced nearly one million people to flee towards the shut Turkish border in search of safety.
Dubbed Operation Spring Shield, the offensive came in response to the killing of 34 Turkish soldiers in Syrian government air raids last week – the biggest casualties suffered by Turkey’s armed forces in decades.
Turkey has sought to push back Syrian forces behind lines agreed under a 2018 deal with Russia, which established 12 Turkish observation posts and created a de-escalation zone around the province, which is home to more than three million people.
On Thursday, Erdogan will try to reach a deal on a ceasefire over Idlib when he meets his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow.