Turkey informs anti-ISIL coalition of Süleyman Şah operation on Syrian soil
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu closely followed the military operation launched to evacuate Turkish soldiers guarding the Tomb of Süleyman Şah in northern Syria with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz. AA photoTurkey informed the international coalition combatting extremist jihadists in Syria of its “Şah Fırat” operation to evacuate the Tomb of Süleyman Şah right immediately after mobilization began, the Turkish prime minister has said.
“The decision for the operation has been taken in Ankara and in line with legal framework as the necessity of rule of law. We implemented the authority given by parliament through the motion [to deploy troops in Syria]. No permission or cooperation was sought from any foreign parties. Once this decision was made and the instructions given, the Turkish Armed Forces ... fulfilled its duty,” Davutoğlu said at a press conference he held early Feb. 22 with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz.
Davutoğlu said the government communicated with groups inside Syria, including the Free Syrian Army, in order to avoid civilian casualties during the operation but did not cite the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which controls the area from which the Turkish army crossed over border to evacuate the troops protecting the Tomb of Süleyman Şah. The Turkish government views the PYD with deep suspicion because of its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“All parties were fully aware that any intervention or blockage of this operation would have received the harshest response,” Davutoğlu said, underlining that they would have never hesitated to use the deterrence capacity of the Turkish army if anyone had interfered with the operation.
A PYD official said late Feb. 21 that the Turkish army sought cooperation of their armed forces before the operation started as the group controls the Kobane region.
Started at 9 pm, ended at 6 am
Davutoğlu also provided some details on the operation that was launched at 9 p.m. Feb. 21 and ended 6 a.m. the following day. “In fact, two separate operations were carried out. The one was to reach out to the Tomb of Süleyman Şah and the other one was to raise our flag on the new piece of land in Syria’s Aşme Village that was already designated as the new position of the tomb,” Davutoğlu said.
The preparations for the operation started in January as the security conditions in the region have worsened, Davutoğlu said, adding he sought the consent of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before the operation.
The operation was conducted from the headquarters in Ankara and Suruç as well as military bases in Malatya and Diyarbakır, Davutoğlu said, informing that a total of 572 troops, 39 tanks and 57 armored vehicles have been involved in the operation.
The outpost Turkey emptied has been rendered unoperational by the troops so that it would not be used by jihadists or other groups.