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dimanche 22 février 2015

Turkish tanks roll into Syria to evacuate memorial, soldiers


Turkey said its troops had taken control of another area in Syria where the flag had been raised and the remains would be moved. AA photo.
Turkey said its troops had taken control of another area in Syria where the flag had been raised and the remains would be moved. AA photo.
ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey launched a military operation across the border in Syria late Saturday to remove a historic monument and the soldiers guarding it, local media reports said.


Dozens of tanks and armored vehicles crossed the border late Saturday to remove the memorial to Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman, to prevent it from being captured and used by militants of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a televised address.


 “Without engaging in any clashes, Turkish troops left Syria early Feb. 22, after detonating the symbolic building to prevent ISIL militants use it as a base,” the Hurriyet daily reported.


Davutoglu later said that a soldier was killed in an accident in the early hours of the operation, which involved the military and intelligence service.


The site of the memorial in northern Syria is considered Turkish territory, according to a 1921 treaty, and was guarded by 40 Turkish soldiers.


Davutoglu said in a series of Tweets that the remains had been “temporarily” brought to Turkey, but would be returned to the Ashma region in Syria, where Turkish forces had already raised their flag.


 "I want to stress that a nation can build a future only by laying a claim on its past," Davutoglu said.


The Turkish incursion is likely to plunge the tense relations between Ankara and Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria even lower. Turkey has insisted that the president must go. There was no immediate reaction from Syria to the Turkish operation.


Hurriyet said the operation was launched in response to reports that ISIS had besieged the tomb, and fears it could be taken over and used as a base by the militants.


The Suleyman Shah tomb was designated Turkish territory under a 1921 treaty with France, the colonial power in Syria at the time. Ankara has regarded the area as sovereign territory, and had warned several times it was ready to defend it if necessary.


Suleyman Shah was a 12th century military leader and grandfather of Osman the First, who founded the Ottoman Empire in the 13th century.

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