Military says resupply mission to tomb in Syria successful

In a written statement released on its website, the military dismissed “information and comments in some media outlets regarding the issue” as being “completely inaccurate,” without elaborating.

The dispatch of the military convoy to Syria has sparked allegations of coordination with radical groups holding the area near the tomb.

Speaking on the issue at a press conference in Parliament on Monday, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Faruk Logoglu criticized Ankara regarding the routes the military convoy took.

Saying that the convoy passed through an area that is under the control of an al-Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Logoglu said that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu should be ashamed of this move.

In its statement, the military said that resupply convoys are sent to Suleyman Sah Saygı Post and rotations of military officers are conducted there in routine missions every three months. It said that last week’s resupply convoy was sent and officers were rotated as part of this routine activity. The convoy that was sent to the tomb in Syria returned to Turkey at 8 p.m. on April 23, the same day as its departure, according to the statement.

It said the convoy took different routes through Syria to and from the post and that the chosen routes are under control of different Syrian rebel groups.

On Wednesday, the military had sent a large number of armored vehicles to the tomb of Suleyman Sah, near ISIL bases in Syria. According to media reports, six tanks and 12 armored vehicles were deployed within 200 meters of ISIL bases, and there were claims that ISIL had also sent reinforcements to the area.

Following the reports, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “Right now, ISIL is not the issue. The job of our convoy there is to transfer aid to the tomb of Suleyman Sah.”

Turkey’s Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar also said on Wednesday that the military convoy that entered Syria was sent to reinforce Turkish troops at the tomb, underlining that it was “a planned activity and not an extraordinary one.”

In recent months, reports have emerged that ISIL forces in Syria are trying to gain control of the area around the tomb of Suleyman Sah and that the Turkish territory is under threat of attack. Turkey had said it would retaliate in the event of an attack on the tomb in Syria, regardless of the attacker’s allegiances.

ISIL’s existence around the tomb of Suleyman Sah is a matter of concern due to an audio recording published online of a conversation between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and some top state officials regarding whether or not Turkey should conduct a military incursion into Syria to protect the tomb.

According to press reports, ISIL forces are about one kilometer from the tomb, and there is a security crisis in the area due to a lack of power and authority, with radical groups increasing terrorist activities in northern Syria.

Turkey previously said that its armed forces were keeping a vigilant eye along the Syrian border and have been ready for any contingencies since the start of the Syrian civil war.

Ankara regards the tomb as sovereign Turkish territory under a treaty signed with France in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. About two dozen Turkish Special Forces soldiers guard the tomb permanently.