GAZIANTEP, Turkey – Syrian rebels attacked and counterattacked across the
Turkish border near the north Syrian town of Azaz over the past week, in growing
internecine conflict among the groups seeking to oust President Bashar
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, known inside Syria by its
acronym, ISIS, is an al-Qaida-linked jihad organization. It announced this month
a campaign of “cleansing evil” directed at moderate pro-Western opposition
It appears from conflicting reports that ISIS tried to expel a
German-Syrian doctor from Azaz al-Ahli hospital who works for Doctors without
Borders. The moderate Northern Storm Brigade blocked the ISIS action and violent
clashes ensued. It is unclear what happened to the physician.
Syrian refugee who studied in Aleppo – a major trade and industrial city 35 km.
south of Azaz – told The Jerusalem Post that the journey to Aleppo from Turkey
is dangerous because of the “al- Qaida” presence in the area.
refugee crisis has spilled over into Gaziantep, a thriving metropolis of 1.5
million that has experienced an economic boom over the past
Hussein, a waiter in Gaziantep, told the Post that the influx of
refugees has caused landlords to double the rent for Syrian
Refugees rent apartments in Gaziantep and then work to bring
additional family members over the border to live in cramped
Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence
agency, told Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday that 170 German Islamists had
departed for Syria.
Maassen, who has served as the head of the federal
Office for the Protection of the Constitution for 13 months, said he sees the
main threat from the Islamic area in terms of Islamic extremism and
“We have a high potential of persons who are Islamists in
Germany, 42,000 people,” he said.
He added that the 170 Germans had
traveled to Syria or in the direction of Syria to participate in jihad. Maassen
said that is a significant growth of German jihadists “when compared with a few
months ago, in which we were dealing with 120 people.”
Maassen told the
radio program that Germany is worried about the return of the German Islamists
who have obtained combat experience and may have terrorist missions to carry out
in the Federal Republic.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s air force honored on Sunday
its pilots who shot down a Syrian military helicopter last week, AFP reported.
Turkey said the Syrian helicopter violated its airspace.
The air force
issued a statement, saying its commander Gen. Akin Ozturk has “honored the
personnel who applied rules of engagement toward a Syrian helicopter which
refused to leave the airspace last week despite warnings.”
of Turkish airspace prompted Ankara to invoke the NATO Charter, calling on its
allies for defense assistance. NATO troops operate Patriot antimissile defense
batteries in Gaziantep and in surrounding cities. The Americans are based in
Gaziantep and the Germans about an hour away in Kahramanmaras. The Dutch are
located in the city of Adana, a two-hour drive from Gazientep.
Weinthal covers European affairs for the Post and is a fellow with the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies.