Turkish PM crosses into Syria to visit historic Ottoman tomb

Nov 30, -0001

ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu crossed briefly into Syria on Sunday to visit the tomb of a revered Ottoman figure situated a few hundred metres from the border, in a move likely to anger the authorities in Damascus.

The tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, had originally been sited further inside Syria
but was relocated closer to the border in February in a Turkish military operation described by the Syrian government as an act
of "flagrant aggression".

Davutoglu's office said in a statement that he had visited the tomb but gave no further details.

The relocation of the tomb, which involved tanks, drones and reconnaissance planes as well as several hundred ground troops,
was the first incursion by Turkish troops into Syria since the start of the civil war there four years ago.

No clashes took place during that operation, although one soldier was killed in an accident.

Turkey, a NATO member with a 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, wants President Bashar al-Assad removed from power but
has refused to take a frontline military role in a U.S.-led coalition, arguing that fighting Assad's forces, not just bombing Islamic State militants, should be the aim.

The tomb had been on a site within Syria that Ankara considers sovereign territory as agreed in a 1921 treaty. The Turkish government informed the Syrian consulate in Istanbul about the February operation but did not await Syria's agreement, which Damascus said violated the treaty. - REUTERS




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