Turkish army tanks take up position on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Turkish military carried out an operation into Syria to evacuate Turkish soldiers guarding a tomb, resulting in the death of one soldier in what is being considered an accident, Today's Zaman reported on Sunday.
The focus of the maneuver, which included the movement of 100 military vehicles and 39 tanks into Northern Syria according to a tweet from Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, was to ensure the safety of Turkish troops guarding the mausoleum of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire from a potential attack by insurgents, including forces from the Islamic State group.
The Turkish prime minister confirmed in a press conference and social media that the operation successfully rescued the 38 stranded soldiers and facilitated the removal of the Ottoman figure's remains to another location in Northern Syria currently under the control of the Turkish military.
Only two days prior to the recent operation, Turkey's interior minister had denied that Turkish soldiers were in such a predicament .
Last month, Turkish journalist Metehan Demir suggested on his personal blog that Turkish soldiers had been guarding the tomb for the past 11 months, but were unable to re-enter Turkey and were at risk of running out of food and water.
Demir's assertions included the claim that the Islamic State group, which reportedly has links to Turkish Intelligence
, has even been providing the Turks with food and water since Ankara had failed to replenish their supplies.
The tomb, despite being situated inside Syria, was recognized as Turkish territory in a treaty signed with France in 1921, when Syria was a French mandate. Turkey considers the enclave to be under its sovereignty and repeatedly vowed to defend it from the possibility of attack by rebel and insurgent elements operating in the border area.