Feel confident, you are not alone, Turkey’s top general tells soldiers in Syria
The tomb carries the potential to create new tension between Turkey and the ISIL jihadists.Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Özel has addressed the Turkish soldiers keeping guard at the Süleyman Şah tomb in Syria in a special Eid-al-Adha message, saying the army would support them in the event of an attack on the area.
“You are successfully performing this duty that was assigned to you at this critical period Özel said.
“You should not forget that you are not alone there,” he said. “Do not forget that the lofty Turkish nation, 76 million citizens are behind you. Our eyes, ears and hearts are all with you. Feel the confidence inside that our Armed Forces will be near you in a second upon any single news from you.”
The tomb has recently been under the spotlight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) advancing in the region, according to both Turkish and U.S. officials.
According to international agreements, the tomb, which is nearly 40 kilometers inside Syrian territory, is considered Turkish territory and the enclave is guarded by a symbolic unit from the Turkish Land Forces Command.
Turkish military sources on Sept. 29 categorically denied any attack by ISIL on the tomb.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied the reports that the mission was surrounded as “made up” but warned that Turkey’s answer would be “clear” if it was attacked.
Turkey has replaced its privates there with Special Forces members, according to a Sept. 25 report.
The tomb carries the potential to create new tension between Turkey and the jihadists, who held 49 staff at Turkey’s consulate to Mosul, including Consul General Öztürk Yılmaz, for 101 days. The staff was freed Sept. 20 probably as the result of a swap deal, which has not been denied by Erdoğan.
The Turkish Parliament is preparing to approve a government request to allow military intervention in Syria and Iraq to fight the rise of ISIL.
Süleyman Şah was a 12th-century military leader of the Seljuk Empire, which was among the first Turkish groups to enter and settle in Anatolia. He is the grandfather of Osman I, who founded the Ottoman Empire in the 13th century, which lasted for six centuries and was succeeded by the Turkish Republic following regime change in 1923 through the War of Liberation.