Overnight between Saturday and Sunday, Turkish soldiers launched a raid into Syria, evacuating a number of besieged troops who were guarding an Ottoman tomb as well as moving the crypt on Sunday back into Turkey after ceremonially planting the flag of the country. In a report about the incident the state news agency in Syria denounced what it said was blatant aggression carried out by Turkey.
The mission, saving soldiers from Turkey that had been stuck reportedly for months at the Ottoman tomb of the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder, saw Turkish troops supported by tanks roll into Syria at Kobani.
Turkey was criticized widely for not intervening in the battle for Kobani for months. The battle was finally won by Kurdish fighters supported by airstrikes that helped push the extremists out.
Close to 600 soldiers from Turkey on nearly 100 tanks along with armored personnel carriers crossed on Saturday night into Syria as airplanes and drones flew reconnaissance overhead, said Ahmet Davutoglu the Turkish Prime Minister.
One group went to the tomb about 22 miles into Syria on the Euphrates River’s banks in Aleppo province, said the Prime Minister.
Another group took control of an area just 200 meters from the border of Turkey in the Ashma region of Syria. During the operation, one soldier lost his life in an accident. Media in Turkey later showed images nationwide of three soldiers from Turkey raising the flag of the country at the new site.
Davutoglu said before the flag was lowered at the Ottoman tomb, another flag was waving Syria in at another location.
The coalition led by the U.S. was informed of the operation by Turkey after it was launched to prevent any undo casualties.
For months, there were rumors the soldiers stationed inside the tomb were besieged by militants from Islamic State, which hold close to one third of Syria as well as Iraq.
Some 40 soldiers from Turkey once were guarding the tomb, making the targets of Islamic State, as well as other militants, although no fighting was reported during the operation.