16 soldiers killed in al-Bab laid to rest in 14 cities across Turkey

16 soldiers killed in al-Bab laid to rest in 14 cities across Turkey

16 soldiers killed in al-Bab laid to rest in 14 cities across Turkey

DHA photo

Sixteen soldiers who were killed in al-Bab in northern Syria as part of Turkey’s four-month-long military operation to secure its border were laid to rest on Dec. 23 in 14 provinces across the country. 

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık told parliament on Dec. 22 that the number of Turkish soldiers who had been killed in al-Bab the previous day had risen to 16, hours after the death toll was given as 14.

Turkey has been carrying out both on-ground and aerial operation against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in northern Syria. 

A group of government officials participated to the funeral ceremonies held for the 16 soldiers in 14 provinces across Turkey. 

A funeral was held for Staff Sgt. Ökkeş Karaca, 25, in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş. Siblings of the soldier attended the ceremony wearing soldiers’ uniforms, while Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak was present at the funeral representing the government.  

Specialized Sgt. Ali Sezai Yalçın, 24, was first taken to his home in the Erbaa district of the Black Sea province of Tokat from a hospital morgue. After ceremonies, the soldier’s body was taken to the central mosque of the town. His cousin, meanwhile, put his groom’s suit on top of his coffin. After the ceremony at the mosque, Yalçın was buried in a ceremony.

Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu attended the funeral of the soldier as well as a group of Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies. 

Hasan Kavuz, a 25-year-old specialized sergeant, was buried in his hometown of Samsun in the Black Sea region. Taken from the public hospital in the Çarşamba district of the province, the body of Kavuz was first brought to his home and then was taken to a mosque for a religious ceremony. Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç attended the ceremony. 

Another staff sergeant, Ömercan Yekebağcı, was also laid to rest in his hometown of the eastern province of Kars.  

The mother of the fallen soldier, Fikriye Yekebağcı, said “I will not cry, I will not make them happy. My baby was martyred,” and hugged the coffin of her son. 

Specialized Sgt. Ali Yılmaz was also buried in his hometown of Antalya. The soldier’s mother and fiancée stood side by side during the funeral that took place at the Uyaroğlu Mosque in the city. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu attended the ceremony in Antalya, which is also his hometown. Yılmaz was scheduled to get married in May 2017. 

Specialized Sgt. Ferhat Demir, 26, and Maj. Bülent Albayrak were buried in their hometown of Bursa while Specialized Sgt. Mehmet Kökkaya and Osman Çelik were also laid to rest in Kayseri. 

Ceremonies continued for the fallen soldiers throughout the day as Specialized Sgt. Akın Acar in Tekirdağ, Oktay Durak in Yozgat, Staff Sergeant Önder Pınar in Elazığ, Specialized sergeant Burak Boz in Konya and gendarmerie non-commissioned officer Göktan Özüpek in Kırklareli were laid to rest.