Saturday 25 November 2017

Syrian regime behind Ankara car bomb that killed 28 - Turkey PM

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (2nd L), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) and Turkish Army Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (3rd L) look on as honour guard carry the flag-draped coffin of Army officer Seckin Cil during a funeral ceremony in Ankara.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (2nd L), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) and Turkish Army Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (3rd L) look on as honour guard carry the flag-draped coffin of Army officer Seckin Cil during a funeral ceremony in Ankara.

Raziy Akkoc in Ankara

A Syrian who entered Turkey with refugees was responsible for a car bomb attack in Ankara which killed 28, the Turkish prime minister has said, as he accused the Syrian regime of being "directly responsible".

Ahmet Davutoglu said the bombing, which targeted a military convoy in the administrative heart of the capital, had been perpetrated by Kurdish militants connected to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Saleh Najar was identified as the individual responsible using his fingerprints and body, pro-government newspaper 'Yeni Safak' reported, after he had his fingerprints taken when he entered Turkey.

The attack, which is the latest in a series of terrorist incidents to hit Turkey, injured at least 81 others on Wednesday evening.

"It has been revealed that this attack was carried out by members of the terrorist organisation in cooperation with a YPG member who infiltrated (Turkey) from Syria," Mr Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara yesterday, as he confirmed the identity of the terrorist, who was born in 1992.

A few hours after the incident, Turkish security sources blamed PKK militants.

He later accused the Syrian regime of being directly responsible because of its ties with Syrian Kurds during a press conference after his visit to the General Staff.

"The YPG [People's Protection Units] is a tool of the Syrian regime and the regime is directly responsible for this attack. The right to take all kinds of measures against the Syrian regime is reserved for us," 'Hurriyet Daily News' quoted him as saying.

The Syrian Kurdish militia, YPG, is not proscribed as a terrorist group by the West, which has supported them against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Mr Davutoglu insisted that the YPG was a terrorist organisation and warned against Western support.

"It is out of the question for us to excuse tolerance toward a terrorist organisation that targets our people in our capital.

"Just like al-Qa'ida or Daesh do not have seats at the table, the YPG, which is a terrorist organisation, cannot have one," he said, using the Arabic acronym for Isil.

"We deny any involvement in this attack," Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim said.

"We have never heard of this person Saleh Najar. These accusations are clearly related to Turkish attempts to intervene in Syria," he added.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, later said 14 people had been detained in connection with the attack and insisted that the Turkish authorities had evidence to prove the culprit.

"Despite the fact that their leader says they have nothing to do with this, the information and documents obtained by our interior ministry and all our intelligence organisations shows that (the attack) was theirs," Mr Erdogan said.

Another Turkish media outlet critical of the government, Sozcu, said Najar had entered the country last July.

The majority of the victims were military personnel.

"Of the 28 people who lost their lives, 27 are members of the Turkish Armed Forces and one is a civilian," Mr Davutoglu said.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, vowed that Turkey would not hesitate in retaliating.

"We will take all precautions under the scope of legitimate self-defence and will retaliate with no hesitance," he said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but only last month, an Isil-linked terrorist killed 11 tourists in the popular area of Sultanahmet in Istanbul, close to the famous Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.

The bombing also comes four months after the country suffered its worst terror attack in the capital by two Isil-linked suicide bombers. More than 100 people were killed while they were peacefully calling for an end to violence between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). In recent months, the three-decade long conflict has returned to the country's south-east between the state and the PKK.

Hundreds of Syrian rebel fighters re-entered Turkey over the last few days to support those fighting Syrian Kurdish-led militias, rebels sources told Reuters news agency.

Turkish forces have secretly escorted them with weapons, before heading into the embattled rebel stronghold of Azaz, the sources said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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