Turkish soldiers still on Syrian soil
Turkish soldiers stand guard at the entrance of the memorial site of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I, in Karakozak village, northeast of Aleppo, Syria.A squad of Turkish soldiers is still on duty on Syrian soil, guarding an Ottoman castle despite recent tensions between Syria and Turkey, daily Milliyet reported today.
Though a symbolic post, around 11 Turkish soldiers are present at Qal’at Ja’bar, which contains the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire.
Despite the tense atmosphere, the soldiers will likely remain unharmed, according to a retired army officer.
The Ottoman Empire collapsed in the early 20th century, and foreign powers invaded its former territories. An article in the 1921 Franco-Turkish agreement allowed Turkey to retain guards and hoist its flag at the castle, which was declared a Turkish exclave. The arrangement was renewed with an independent Syria.
Syria has made no public statements about the soldiers, possibly calculating that any move against them, particularly at a site with heavy Islamic symbolism, would present no political gain and could result in retaliation by Ankara, according to the newspaper.