Results tagged “Turkey”
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Interior Minister Güler denied allegations that police allowed a truck to unload nearly 1,000 warheads destined for Syria at a crossing checkpoint in Hatay near an al Qaeda camp. The government plans to turn a 5th century monastery in Istanbul into a mosque. Turkey joined Iran in calling for a ceasefire in Syria prior to peace talks on Jan. 22.
The Interior Ministry reported that over 500 Turkish citizens, including some who trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, have gone to Syria and joined the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. The government said 13 Turkish fighters with the Al Nusrah Front have been killed in Syria, and another 75 Turkish citizens are also known to have been killed there. Members of the opposition CHP party have called for an investigation into the recruitment of Turkish fighters.
Protesters and police clashed in Istanbul after police demanded the removal of a banner that accused Prime Minister Erdogan of supporting al Qaeda in the Kurdish region of Rojava in Syria. A security analyst said fighters have been entering Syria illegally through southern Turkish towns for the past three years.
Authorities are investigating reports that vehicles stolen in Turkey are being used for illegal activities in Syria or the transport of illicit materials into Syria. The military claimed that Kurdistan Workers Party militants fired at a military convoy in Mardin near the Syrian border; there were no reported casualties. Deputy Prime Minister Arınç indicated that Hagia Sophia will soon be turned into a mosque.
Turkey asked NATO to extend the deployment of Patriot missiles along the Syrian border for another year, due to an ongoing "serious" threat. Six missile batteries, sent by Germany, the Netherlands, and the US, were installed early this year to protect against a possible attack from Syria.
Authorities seized chemical materials from a three-vehicle convoy that was attempting to cross the border near Reyhanli into Syria on Nov. 2; two of the three drivers managed to flee into Syria but a third was arrested. The confiscated materials, which "could be transformed into weapons," the Army said, included about a ton of sulphur and eight barrels of another substance. Some reports alleged that al Qaeda forces had seized a chemical arms facility in Homs and needed raw materials. Turkish prosecutors claim that a suspect in the May 11 car bombings in Reyhanli met with the president of Syria prior to the attacks. The government is building a wall between Turkey's Nusaybin and Syria's Qamishli districts, both largely Kurdish areas. A report said refugees, including jihadists, in Kilis province now number 78,000, outnumbering the local population of 60,000.
Hytham Qassap, the only Syrian among six men arrested in Adana in May and charged with trying to obtain chemical weapons materials for the Al Nusrah Front and the Ahrar al Sham, was released pending trial; the five other suspects, all Turks, were all released after tests showed the materials seized were not sarin gas, but ingredients used to make it. Qassap denied the charges against him but admitted to contacts with the Free Syrian Army. Syria's Grand Mufti reportedly claimed that two Syrian bishops kidnapped in April are being held in Turkey; the Turkish Foreign Ministry denied the reports.
A senior commander in the Kurdistan Workers' Party threatened civil war in Turkey if it does not engage in "deep and meaningful negotiations with the Kurdish movement." The PKK also claims Turkey and preacher Fethullah Gulen have recruited Islamist "bandit groups" to fight Kurds in Syria. The European Union offered to open a new chapter on negotiations for Turkey's accession to the organization.
The military said it fired four artillery rounds at fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham near Azaz inside the Syrian border, claiming it was retaliating for a shell fired from the area that landed near a Turkish military post. The military's statement marks the first time that it has fired at ISIS. The US has expressed concerns to Turkey about the flow of extremists through its borders into Syria.
Interior Minister Güler rejected opposition charges that the government had recently opened Turkish border gates in response to a threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He also rejected the charge that ISIL was behind the Reyhanli border gate bombing that killed over 50 people; authorities have blamed the bombing on the Turkish Peoples Liberation Party/Front (THKP/C) and a faction, the Urgent Ones (Acilciler). The government also denied involvement in an alleged special forces raid against Shabaab in Somalia. The government aims to continue incursions into Iraq in pursuit of the Kurdistan Workers Party.
The opposition party accused Prime Minister Erdogan's government of using discretionary funds to recruit, arm, train, and finance al Qaeda-linked groups in Turkey for battle in Syria. Last week Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim accused the Erdogan government of facilitating the operations of the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda, and the Ahrar al Sham in Turkish border towns to support the Islamist groups' fight against the Kurds in Syria. President Gul accused the UN of failing to protect Syria and called for concrete steps to end the Syrian conflict and the speedy passage of a resolution on the US-Russian chemical arms deal.
The government shut the Öncüpınar border gate after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized the nearby Syrian town of Azar. The key crossing itself, which includes the Syrian Bab al-Salameh gate, has been held by Syrian rebels, chiefly the Free Syrian Army's Northern Storm Brigade, since last year. According to a recent survey, Turkey remains the NATO member with the least public support for the alliance.
A Turkish fighter jet shot down a Syrian helicopter after it allegedly violated Turkish airspace after disregarding repeated warnings; the helicopter landed in Syrian territory one kilometer from the border. Turkey said it would inform NATO and the UN of the circumstances, and that the incident would serve as a warning not to violate Turkish borders. The Syrian military accused Turkey of "hasty" action intended to increase tensions between the two countries.
Prosecutors in southern Turkey issued an indictment against six members of the Al Nusrah Front who were among 11 persons arrested in May in Adana with chemicals used to make sarin gas. Syrian national Hytham Qassap, 35, was indicted along with five Turkish citizens for trying to procure chemical materials in Turkey for the Al Nusra Front and the Ahrar al Sham Brigades. Qassap had allegedly been told to move to Antakya by the leader of the Ahrar al Sham, Abu Walid. The indictment said the defendants admitted to obtaining the chemicals to "prevent Syrian regime war planes from attacking cities with the help of white smoke, polishing rockets and tanks and camouflaging sharpshooters while they change their positions." The indictment further charged that chemical materials are used by members of Ahrar al-Sham and the Al Nusrah Front.
Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said Syria should surrender its chemical weapons but the Assad regime should still be punished; he also denied that Turkey has links with radical groups in Syria, especially the Al Nusrah Front. Turkish officials denied reports that the Al Nusrah Front has been allowed to establish camps and use guesthouses near Ceylanpınar along the Syrian border. Refugees and smugglers have been entering Turkey freely along the border from Ceylanpınar to Reyhanlı. The Ceylanpınar mayor said Al Nusrah Front fighters wounded in clashes with Kurdish PYD forces in northern Syria are being treated in area hospitals, and that Al Nusrah is active in tent towns. Alawite refugees in Istanbul have refused to go to refugee camps in southern Turkey, due to rumors that rebels dominate the camps. The PKK claimed that 600 of its fighters have left Turkey, but is halting its withdrawal.
Prime Minister Erdogan said the goal for any military intervention in Syria should be regime change. "A limited operation cannot be satisfactory to us," he said. Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said the Assad regime was responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical attack in Damascus and cited a Turkish intelligence report.
The military claimed it repelled "up to 4,000 smugglers" in a nine-hour clash near the Narlıca Oğulpınar post in Hatay province. The group of approximately 3,000 people on foot, 350 horseback riders, and 250 vehicles was trying to cross over from Syria. A similar incident with "3,000 smugglers" occurred 10 days ago. Police detained two Syrians and confiscated 177 kilograms of explosives at the Syrian border gate in Kilis. Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said Turkey would join a possible coalition against the Assad regime even if the UN abstains from taking action against it.
Prime Minister Erdoğan said only about 20 percent of militants from the banned Kurdistan Workers Party have withdrawn, and that Turkey will continue operations against the group until it lays down arms. Three more suspects in the Reyhanli car bombing were arrested; a total of 32 have been detained. A Turkish soldier will be tried as a terrorist for allegedly leaking intelligence documents showing the government knew of a plan by the Al Nusrah Front to execute a car bomb attack possibly in Turkey; some 53 civilians were killed in an attack at Reyhanlı on May 11. The soldier's family claims he is being tortured. Turkish troops at a border post in Mardin returned fire from gunmen in Syria.
In response to an opposition query, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said that seven Turkish civilians have died in Syria since the start of the Syrian uprising, but claimed that the foreign ministry has no "detailed inventory of persons entering and exiting" from Turkish border gates into Syria. The headquarters of the Syrian National Coalition is moving to Turkey from Egypt, as are many members of the Syrian opposition since the fall of the Morsi government.
Turkish troops repelled a group of some 1,150 "smugglers" who were attempting to enter Hatay province from Syria. The troops warned the group, which included 150 horseback riders and 40 vehicles, but shot back after 15 or 20 rounds were fired at the military. A soldier was injured when some of the 35 gas cans the group carried were hit by gunfire.