Erdogan confirms ‘aid’ to Turkish military post inside Syria

Erdogan confirms ‘aid’ to Turkish military post inside Syria

Erdogan confirms ‘aid’ to Turkish military post inside Syria

Although the treaties recognize the shrine as the tomb of the grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, some historians say it belongs to another Süleyman Shah, who was the founder of the Seljuk Empire in Anatolia and died in 1086. Both figures are highly revered in Turkey.

A Turkish convoy has carried “aid” into Syria, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on April 23, responding to claims that Turkish forces have started an operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) near the tomb of Süleyman Shah, which sits 25 kilometers from the border and remains under Turkish sovereignty under a 1921 treaty.

“Right now, the issue is not about ISIL. The job of our convoy there is to transfer aid to the Süleyman Shah tomb. Our friends in charge are continuing the effort,” Erdoğan told journalists after hosting primary school students in Ankara for national Children’s Day.

Later during an official reception at Parliament, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the military activity is a "routine change of duty" for the security of the Turkish troops at the tomb, while Land Forces Commander General Hulusi Akar stressed that it is "a planned activity."

Social media accounts regarded as close to ISIL had reported earlier on April 23 that six Turkish tanks, 12 armored vehicles and 300 Turkish soldiers had been deployed 200 meters from ISIL positions in northern Syria, quoting eyewitnesses. Same sources claimed the ISIL also reinforced its own forces.

Davutoğlu reiterated on March 14 that Turkey had the right to “take all precautions to protect the tomb,” following clashes between the Free Syrian Army and ISIL in the area.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız also said on March 20 that there was “no difference” between the land of the tomb and Ankara.

“The tomb of Süleyman Shah is a rare place, being Turkish land outside of Turkey’s own borders. There is no difference between the tomb and Ankara or Sinop. The soil on which it is located is Turkish soil. Our armed forces are ensuring security and protecting it,” Yıldız said. 

The tomb of Süleyman Shah is located in the governorate of Aleppo, and sits 25 kilometers from the Turkey-Syria border. It remains under Turkish sovereignty under a 1921 treaty signed between Turkey and France, which was then the colonial power in Syria. The agreement was renewed after Syria gained independence in 1936.