Turkey enters Syria to evacuate Suleyman Shah tomb
HUNDREDS of Turkish troops in armoured vehicles have entered into northern Syria and evacuated a historic Ottoman tomb and the soldiers guarding it.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the remains of Suleyman Shah would be moved elsewhere in Syria.
He said troops had destroyed the tomb’s complex, apparently to prevent it from being used by Islamic State (IS) militants.
Turkey considers the shrine be to sovereign territory.
Suleyman Shah, who lived from around 1178 to 1236, was grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire, Osman I.
The tomb of Suleiman Shah was the one and only Turkish enclave abroad, in accordance with a treaty signed in 1921. This was the burial site of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder Osman I – which meant it had historical significance too.
Turkey was concerned with the rising Islamic State threat in the area. In March 2014, IS threatened to attack the site unless Turkish troops guarding the tomb were withdrawn in three days; but such an attack did not take place. If the tomb had in fact come under attack, that would have provoked serious reaction from Turkey.
In August 2012, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – then PM – had warned that an act against the tomb would be considered “an attack on our territory, as well an attack on Nato land”. Last year, the Turkish parliament authorized the use of force against IS militants. Commentators in Turkish media say the fact that the tomb is now moved and soldiers are evacuated is a relief for Turkey.
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