MURAT YETKİN >Mysterious blast at Turkey’s Syrian border

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Was it the Syrian intelligence behind the Feb. 11 bombing in the waiting section of Turkey’s Cilvegözü border gate with Syria, which left 14 recorded dead (so far) and dozens wounded? Or was it Turkish or Kurdish armed groups manipulated by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus? Could it be one of the Jihadist groups in relation to al-Qaeda or Al Nusra for example?

There are other questions still lingering regarding how the bombing was carried out. Was the bombed car coming in or going out of Turkey? Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler said that the security cameras clearly showed the car came from Syria and parked at the border gate while two of its passengers returned to the Syrian side and another proceeded to passport control and entered Turkey, possibly with a fake passport. Who were they? Members of a delegation of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) who visited the destroyed border gate like the interior minister and two other cabinet members did, say they also wanted to watch the security video to be sure the bomb-laden car had indeed came from the Syrian side. That demand, they say was to clarify the claims the car could have been carrying bombs from the Turkish side to the Syrian side; which could turn the picture upside down. While recalling that the government had announced the Cilvegözü gate had been closed since July 21, 2012, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu put all the responsibility on the government. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan on the other hand, admitted in his address to the ruling Justice and Development (AK Parti) group that the car had arrived in Turkey from the Syrian side unchecked; with no security control.

On the other side of the border the area has been under the control of the Free Syrian Army for nearly a year now, not in the hands of the official Syrian Army. The Syrian National Coalition spokesman George Sabra said the bomb was planted by forces loyal to al-Assad and was aimed at them. He said in an Istanbul press conference yesterday that they were on way back from a coalition meeting in Aleppo, Syria with a delegation of 13 in a van similar to the one next to the exploded car and had they not taken longer than necessary to pray during the journey they would not have been saved from the blast. He asked the Turkish government and the whole world to see the ‘truth’ and take a more active position.

Turkish security units are working hard to find out what has actually happened. A crime scene investigation was still going on by evening of Feb. 12 as the Hürriyet Daily News was sent to print. It is not clear yet who did it, but the bombing has shown one thing clearly: that Turkey’s border with Syria is vulnerable to terrorist penetrations and attacks. The bombing might cause Ankara to take extra measures and fine tune its Syria policy.


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