Syrian Islamist groups congratulate Erdogan on referendum victory


Islamist groups in Syria and beyond congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, after his victory in a referendum on expanding presidential powers.

"We congratulate our Turkish brothers for the result of the referendum and we ask Allah to help President Erdogan to give Turkey and the region stability and to enhance Turkey with prosperity," hardline Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Sham said.

The Turkish-backed rebel group Sultan Murad Brigades wrote on Twitter: "We congratulate the Turkish government and people on the successful referendum."

"The brotherly Turkish people proved that their decision is stronger than international pressure," wrote the group, which is an Islamist alliance mostly based on ethnic Turkmen militias.

Jaish al-Islam, another Islamist rebel group in Syria, also welcomed the referendum, saying the Turkish people had "expressed their aspirations towards liberation and building a strong nation."

Turkey has been a main backer of the Syrian opposition and rebels since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011. Several opposition and rebel leaders have been living in Turkey, which hosts some 2,973,980 Syrian refugees according to UNHCR data.

Ahmed Ramadan, the head of the press office at the Syrian National Coalition, an alliance of opposition groups, told journalists: "This is a positive thing for the Syrian opposition and the Syrian crisis in general. Turkey will continue to give all its support for the Syrian revolution which started in 2011."

Meanwhile, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood group also praised Turkey's "democratic achievement," adding that the referendum "will open the door for a new era" and "the prospects of comprehensive renaissance."

Egypt banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, prompting many of its leaders to flee, mostly to Turkey, to escape arrest.

On Sunday, Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahdha Party in Tunisia, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, called Erdogan to congratulate him and wish him "more prosperity and advancement."    (dpa)

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