Turkish forces raid Isis-occupied Syria to safeguard body of Ottoman-era king

February 24, 2015 2:13 am

Tanks, drones and reconnaissance planes joined hundreds of Turkish
soldiers on a night time raid into -occupied to evacuate the
tomb of a revered Ottoman figure and rescue around 40 soldiers who had
been guarding it.
Sweeping around 23 miles into the country they
met no resistance as they reached the final resting place of Suleyman
Shah, who lived from about 1178 to 1236 and was the grandfather of the
founder of the Ottoman empire, Osman I. The Syrian government described
the operation yesterday as an act of “flagrant aggression”, adding that
had informed its Istanbul consulate about the operation, but had
not waited for Syria’s agreement.

A soldier gives the thumbs up as Turkish tanks roll through Kobani on their way back from the Ottoman tomb in Syria. Photo / AP

Suleyman’s tomb was relocated to the Esmesi region of Syria,
where a Turkish flag was planted, and the mausoleum that had housed it
was destroyed to prevent its use by Isis.
The Turkish Prime
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the operation was carried out “to protect
our spiritual values and the safety of our armed forces personnel”.
The
38 soldiers who had been guarding the tomb, made Turkish territory
under a treaty signed with France in 1921, were also brought home.
Normally, the detachment is rotated every six months but the last one
had been trapped at the site for eight months by Isis fighters.

Turkish tanks drive through Kobani as they return from the Ottoman tomb in Syria. Photo / AP
Turkish tanks drive through Kobani as they return from the Ottoman tomb in Syria. Photo / AP
In March 2014, the group threatened to attack the site
unless Turkish troops guarding the tomb were withdrawn in three days,
but an attack did not take place. Its strict Salafi interpretation of
Islam deems the veneration of relics idolatrous and it has destroyed
several tombs and mosques in Syria.
Mr Davutoglu, who has
repeatedly said that Turkey would retaliate against any attack on the
tomb, called the operation to remove it “extremely successful”, adding
that it had not sought permission or assistance for the mission.
Instead,
he said, it had informed allies in the coalition against Isis once the
incursion began – the first by Turkish troops into Syria since the start
of the civil war nearly four years ago.
Around 100 military
vehicles, including 39 tanks, were involved along with 572 military
personnel including special forces commandos. Fighter jets were on alert
during the mission but did not need to be deployed, he explained.

Turks work to build a new Ottoman tomb in Esme village in Aleppo province. Photo / AP
Turks work to build a new Ottoman tomb in Esme village in Aleppo province. Photo / AP
No clashes took place during the operation although one soldier was killed in an accident, according to the Turkish military.
In
its statement yesterday, Syria said the fact that Isis had not attacked
the tomb “confirmed the depth of the ties between the Turkish
government and this terrorist organisation”.
Syria has long
accused Turkey of supporting insurgent groups that have seized control
of wide areas in the north and east of the country. Mr Davutoglu said
the tomb would be returned to its previous location once conditions
allowed.

Tags:
shared on wplocker.com