Turkish PM Says Soldiers Evacuated Successfully in Syria Mission
Turkish soldiers guarding the tomb of Suleyman Shah in Syria have been successfully evacuated to Turkey in a military operation overnight, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on his Twitter account on Sunday.
Davutoglu said the remains of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, would be moved to a different area of Syria which has been brought under Turkish military control.
The military said in a statement that there had been no clashes during the operation but that one soldier had been killed in an accident.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the mission had succeeded, with the soldiers returning safely home and also bringing back the tomb containing the remains of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman empire’s founder, Osman I.
In a hugely symbolic move, Turkish troops also seized control of a new area inside Syria close to the Turkish border where officials said the tomb will be relocated within days.
Turkish television showed pictures of troops triumphantly planting the Turkish flag at the new location in the nighttime operation.
Davutoglu and Erdogan said the transfer of the tomb to a new location inside Syria was fully within international law as it did not violate the 1921 treaty.
This is not the first time the tomb has been relocated it was moved in the 1970s when its then location, also on the Euphrates, was flooded by the Syrian authorities to construct the Tabqa Dam that forms Lake Assad.
The tomb had for years been watched over largely by conscripts but in March 2014 Turkey reportedly sent several dozen special forces to guard it.
Turkey’s opposition angrily lashed out at the government, accusing it of dressing up a military withdrawal as a victory.
“For the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic, we are losing territory without fighting for it,” said Gursel Tekin of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).