Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War

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Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War
Part of the Military intervention against ISIL
Date 2011 – present
(8 years)
Location Syria
Status
  • Turkish fire on Kurdish YPG and ISIL positions in Syria.
  • Turkey is experiencing clashes between Syrian border troops and ISIL militants.
  • Turkey provides weapons to the Syrian Opposition, primarily to Syrian Turkmen Brigades.
  • Turkey and Russia tensions strike as Turkey shoots a Russian fighter jet and Turkmen rebels down a Russian helicopter.
  • Syrian government forces capture most of the Turkmen Mountain with Russian military aid.[2][3][4]
  • Turkey vows to protect the Syrian Turkmen and Syrian Turkmen dominated areas of Bayırbucak and Azaz-Aleppo-Jarabulus line.
Belligerents

Turkey Turkey
Syria Free Syrian Army


Army of Conquest

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIL

Syria Syrian Government
 Russia


Syrian Democratic Forces

Flag of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).svg Kurdistan Workers' Party
Commanders and leaders
Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Turkey Ahmet Davutoğlu
Turkey Hulusi Akar
Ebu Bekir Muhammed Abbas
Ömer Abdullah
Alparslan Celik
Albay Ahmed Berri
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Ala al-Afri 
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Ali al-Anbari 
Syria Bashar al-Assad
Syria Maher al-Assad
Syria Ali Abdullah Ayyoub
Strength
685.862 military personnel, 668 aircraft 31,500 - 100,000 178,000 military personnel, 320 aircraft
Casualties and losses
2 pilots killed[5]
13 border guards killed[6]
1 F-4 shot down
8 civilians killed[7][8][9]
35 militants killed Syrian:
1 pilot killed[10]
12 soldiers killed[11]
1 Mi-17 shot down
1 MiG-23 shot down
1 Mohajer-4 drone shot down
Russian:
2 killed
1 SU-24 shot down
1 CSAR helicopter shot down
SDF:
3 fighters killed (SDF claim)[12]

Turkey, whose relations with Syria had been friendly over the previous decade, condemned its President Bashar Assad over the violent crackdown on protests in 2011 and requested his departure from office. Previously, after 1999 when Bashar Assad's father Hafez al-Assad expelled Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, the relationship between Syria and Turkey warmed.[13] In the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, Turkey trained defectors of the Syrian Army on its territory, and in July 2011, a group of them announced the birth of the Free Syrian Army, under the supervision of Turkish intelligence.[14] In October 2011, Turkey began sheltering the Free Syrian Army, offering the group a safe zone and a base of operations. Together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey has also provided the rebels with arms and other military equipment. Tensions between Syria and Turkey significantly worsened after Syrian forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet in June 2012, and border clashes erupted in October 2012.[15]

Turkey also provided refuge for Syrian dissidents. Syrian opposition activists convened in Istanbul in May to discuss regime change,[16] and Turkey hosts the head of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad al-Asaad.[17] Turkey has become increasingly hostile to the Assad government's policies and has encouraged reconciliation among dissident factions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been trying to "cultivate a favorable relationship with whatever government would take the place of Assad."[18] Beginning in May 2012, some Syrian opposition fighters began being armed and trained by the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation.[19]

Turkey maintains a small enclave within Syria itself, the Tomb of Suleyman Shah on the right bank of the Euphrates in Aleppo Province, near the village of Qarah Qawzak (Karakozak). The Tomb is guarded by a small permanent garrison of Turkish soldiers, who continue to rotate in from a battalion based at the Turkish border some 25 kilometres (16 mi) away, even as the civil war unfolded around them.[20] Up until Syrian forces shot down a Turkish warplane in June 2012, the garrison numbered 15 men in total. Following the incident, the Turkish government doubled the number of soldiers stationed at the tomb to 30, while then-Prime Minister Erdoğan warned that "the tomb of Suleyman Shah and the land that surrounds it are Turkish territory. Any act of aggression against it would be an attack on our territory and NATO territory." Analysts have cited the tomb as a potential future flashpoint in Turkish-Syrian relations.[21]

Academics, journalists, and several heads of state have noted that Turkey actively works with ISIS through funding, supplying weapons, allowing fighters to freely move to and from Turkey, and providing healthcare to wounded ISIS fighters. It is also claimed that Turkey buys oil on the black market from ISIS and that Turkey smuggles weapons to ISIS fighters.

Contents

Turkey and Syria's government

Numerous incidents along the Syrian–Turkish border have taken place during the Syrian Civil War, straining the relations between the countries. Dozens were killed, both among civilians and military personnel. Following Syria's downing of a Turkish jet in 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan changed the military's rules of engagement so that any Syrian element approaching the border would be deemed a threat and be treated as a military target.[22] Turkey has bolstered its defenses and deployed additional troops on its border with Syria in mid to late September 2013, with convoys of military vehicles ferrying equipment and personnel and additional short range air defenses set up.[22]

December 2011 incidents

During the 5 December 2011 night, about 35 armed fighters tried to cross the border of Syria from Turkey, but were engaged immediately by the Syrian border forces who inflicted several wounds to them and were able to repel them back to Turkey. Once they were back on Turkish soil, the Turkish army allegedly picked them up in trucks and took care of the injured fighters. A further attempt happened during the night of 12 December, when 15 infiltrators tried again to cross the border. They were unsuccessful and two of them were killed by Syrian border patrols.

June 2012 F-4 jet incident

On 22 June 2012, Syrian air defenses shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom fighter jet,[23] and both pilots were killed.[24] The incident significantly raised tensions between the two countries.[25][26] Syria stated that it had shot the fighter down using anti-aircraft artillery near the village of Om al-Tuyour, while it was flying over Syrian territorial waters one kilometer away from land.[27] Turkey's foreign minister stated the jet was shot down in international airspace after accidentally entering Syrian airspace, while it was on a training flight to test Turkey's radar capabilities.[28] Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed retaliation, saying: "The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed ... Turkey will support Syrian people in every way until they get rid of the bloody dictator and his gang."[29] Ankara acknowledged that the jet had flown over Syria for a short time, but they said such temporary overflights were common, had not led to an attack before, and alleged that Syrian helicopters had violated Turkish airspace five times without being attacked and that a second, search-and-rescue jet had been fired at.[29] Assad later expressed regret over the incident.[30] In August 2012, reports appeared in some Turkish newspapers claiming that the Turkish General Staff had deliberately misinformed the Turkish government about the fighter's location when it was shot down. The reports said that a NATO command post at Izmir and a British base in Cyprus had confirmed that the fighter was shot down inside Syrian waters and that radar intelligence from U.S. forces had disproved any "accidentally entered Syrian waters" flightpath error. The General Staff denied the claims.[31]

October 2012 cross-border clashes

Tensions were further raised later that year when Syrian mortar rounds began landing in Turkish territory. On 3 October, a Syrian mortar shell hit the Turkish town of Akçakale, killing 5 civilians.[7][32] Turkey responded by shelling Syrian army positions along the border.[33] Throughout October, Syrian mortar shells repeatedly landed in Turkish territory, and the Turkish military launched retaliatory artillery and mortar strikes, firing into Syria a total of 87 times. These attacks reportedly killed 12 Syrian soldiers and destroyed several tanks.[34]

January 2013 incident

In the early hours of 14 January 2013, a shell fired by unknown Syrian forces landed in an olive grove near the border village of Akçabağlar, causing no casualties.[35] On January 30, Syrian El Muhaberat agents tried to cross the border between Turkey and Syria but were turned back under fire by Turkish forces.

February 2013 bombing

On 11 February 2013, a bomb exploded at the Turkısh-Syrian border crossing in Cilvegözü, killing 14.[36] According to BBC, the deadly attack killed 17 people and injured 30 more.[37]

April 2013 border air raid

On April 30, 2013, according to Syrian opposition activists, the Syrian air force raided the headquarters of a rebel camp on Syrian-Turkish border, killing 5.[38] Activists told Hurriyet Daily News that the air attack was made on headquarters of a Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham. A Turkish aid worker said the air strike also hit a warehouse on the Syrian side of the border used by aid groups. Another Syrian activist at Bab al-Hawa said people waiting to cross the Syrian-Turkish border were among those hit. He added that at least 15 wounded were taken to hospital near the crossing on the Syrian side and among the dead were a one-and-a-half-year-old child and two teenage girls. Some Syrian activists said some of the casualties were suffering breathing difficulties but said they did not know what type of munitions had been used in the attack. "We cannot confirm that there were any chemical weapons involved," Reyhanli mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Reuters.

May 2013 Akçakale incident

On 2 May 2013, fighting occurred between Syrian anti-government insurgents and Turkish border guards at the Akçakale border crossing. One Turkish border guard was killed in the engagement, reportedly the first armed clashes between Turkish government agents and anti-Assad militants.[39]

2013 helicopter incident

On September 16, 2013, Turkish jets shot down a Syrian helicopter on the Syrian-Turkish border.[22] According to Turkish official statement, Turkish warplanes made the intercept after a Syrian Mi-17 helicopter had crossed into Turkish airspace and the government warned it had taken all necessary measures to defend itself against any further such violations. Syrian army acknowledged the helicopter had strayed into Turkish airspace for a short time, while monitoring "terrorists" moving across the border into Syria, but said it was an accident and that the aircraft was on its way back when it was shot down.[22]

The helicopter pilot was beheaded after the crash by Syrian rebels[10]

January 2014 incident on the Syrian Kurdistan border

Five Syrian Kurds were killed while crossing borders into Turkey on January 20, 2014.[40] Zahir Mulla and Muhammad Ahmad were killed along with other three men (whose identities couldn't be identified), when Turkish border guards opened fire.[citation needed]

March 2014 Turkish shootdown of a Syrian aircraft

On 23 March 2014, Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian MiG-23. The Syrian Arab Republic claims that its aircraft was in Syrian airspace on a mission to attack rebel held areas in the city of Latakia when it was shot down by Turkey in an act of "blatant aggression." The Syrian pilot successfully ejected from the aircraft as the aircraft was being shot down.[41] Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan stated that Turkish F-16s shot down the aircraft for violating Turkish airspace and said that the Turkish "response will be heavy if you violate our airspace."[42]

February 2015 relocation of the Tomb of Suleyman Shah

In the night of 21–22 February 2015, a convoy of 572 Turkish troops in 39 tanks and 57 armoured vehicles entered Syria through Kobanî to evacuate the 38-man Turkish military garrison guarding the Suleyman Shah tomb and move the remains of Suleyman Shah to a different site because of a rumored attack threat of ISIL. The Turkish military did not seek permission from Syria to carry out the mission, the Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the move, saying that Turkey "committed an act of flagrant aggression on Syrian land."

May 2015 Turkish shootdown of a Syrian UAV

On 16 May 2015, a Turkish Air Force F-16 shot down an Iranian made Mohajer 4 UAV that had violated Turkish airspace over Hatay province entering 11 km into Turkish airspace. Initial claims by the Turkish government mentioned an intruding helicopter was shot down, but later it was admitted that the downed aircraft was an UAV as claimed by the Syrian side.[43][44]

May 2015 Cumhuriyet video

In May, there was a public scandal over video footage released by the newspaper Cumhuriyet purporting to show Turkish intelligence shipping arms to Syrian Islamist rebels. The editor-in-chief and more than thirty officers involved in the search and the attempted search of another truck of weapons some time earlier now face charges for breaking counter-terrorism laws, attempting to overthrow the government and military espionage.[45]

Turkey and ISIL

Turkey has, despite national and international criticism, largely refused to directly engage militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), despite continued threats from ISIL to pursue more operations on Turkish soil. The Turkish response to the ISIL-led Siege of Kobanî as well as a series of terrorist attacks on Turkish soil allegedly linked to ISIL perpetrators, was largely subdued apart from a series of incidents on the Turkish–Syrian border. On 24 July 2015, ISIL and Turkish soldiers actively engaged in the Turkish border town of Kilis, marking a dangerous new escalation in the ties between Turkey and ISIL.[46]

On August 25, 2015 Turkish newspaper Bugün ran a front-page story showing alleged transfer of weapon and explosives from Turkey to ISIL through Akcakale border post. A couple of days later offices of Koza İpek Media Group, the owner of the newspaper, were raided by Turkish police.[47][48]

In late November 2015, Turkey started tougher controls to stop ISIL militants crossing on a 60-mile stretch of the border with Syria where ISIL had control of the Syrian side. The crossing was used for smuggling and for arms transfers. This followed Russian President Putin directly accusing Turkey of aiding ISIL and al-Qaeda, and pressure from the U.S.[49]

Turkey and Rojava

With the Turkish government thinking that the declaration was enough, and with only a minimum of western airstrikes helping the defenders of Kobanî, ISIL troops edged closer to the city, eventually entering it from the south and east.[50]

Feeling betrayed by the Turkish government and hearing that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's previous vow not to let Kobanî fall was in fact a lie, refugees on the border and citizens in the cities of Istanbul, Ankara, Antakya, Antalya, Eskişehir, Denizli, Kocaeli, Diyarbakır, Siirt, Batman, and elsewhere began to protest. Turkish police responded with tear gas and water cannons, and live fire in the southern province of Adana, killing protestors.[51][52]

By 7 October, ISIL militants and Kurdish defenders were fighting in the streets of Kobanî, with many dead and scores wounded on both sides.[53] American and Arab states conducted airstrikes in support of the defense of the town. However, US officials acknowledged that airstrikes would not likely be decisive in preventing the fall of Kobanî. They described the air campaign as a broad effort to undermine ISIL's ability to operate rather than an intervention that could turn the tide of a particular battle, such as the one at Kobanî.[54]

As the battle for Kobanî continued to rage, rioting continued in Turkey, and almost 40 people were killed in street clashes by mid-October. In late October, ISIL began shelling the border post near Kobanî.[55]

On 11 October, Turkish President Erdogan denounced the protests, claiming that they were attacking Turkey's "peace, stability, and environment of trust." He stated that the government was already caring for 200,000 Kurdish refugees from the Kobanî area and asked, "What does Kobanî have to do with Turkey?"[56]

By mid-October, fighting had also renewed between Turkish military forces and PKK elements in southeastern Turkey.

On 29 November 2014, ISIL fighters began attacking YPG fighters in Kobanî from Turkish territory.[57] Kurdish sources in Kobane said that on November 29 ISIL fighters attacked Kobane from Turkish territory, and that the assault began with a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber coming from Turkish territory. During the attack, a group of ISIL fighters were seen atop granary silos on the Turkish side of the border.[58][59] According to the German news outlet 'Der Spiegel', ISIL fighters also attacked YPG positions near the border gate from Turkish soil.[60] According to the SOHR, YPG fighters crossed the Turkish border and attacked ISIL positions on Turkish soil, before pulling back to Syria. Soon afterwards, the Turkish Army regained control of the border crossing and silos area.[61]

On 25 June 2015, fighters from ISIL launched an attack against Kobanî, detonating three car bombs.[62] The ISIL fighters were reported to have disguised themselves as Kurdish security forces, before entering the town and shooting civilians with assault rifles and RPGs.[63][64] Over 164 people are dead and 200 injured, making the attack one of the largest killings of civilians in the North of Syria.[63]

Kurdish forces and the Syrian government claimed the vehicles had entered the city from across the border, an action denied by Turkey.[65] ISIS also committed a massacre in the village of Barkh Butan, about 20 kilometres south of Kobanî, executing at least 23 Syrian Kurds, among them women and children.[66]

On February 22, 2016, U.S.-Russia joint cease-fire deal announced to take effect in Syria on Feb. 27, but the “cessation of hostilities” does not include ISIL and the al-Nusra Front, the main jihadist factions. On Feb. 24, Turkish president, Erdoğan, during a speech said that “The PYD and the YPG need to be out of the scope of the cease-fire, just like Daesh (ISIL) is,”.[67]

Plans to invade or interfere in Syria

Invasion plans (2014)

On 27 March 2014 an audio tape recording of high-level Turkish officials discussing Turkey's Syria strategy was released on YouTube.[68] The officials discussed a false flag operation that would lead to an invasion of Syria. YouTube was subsequently blocked in Turkey.

Vote in Parliament (2014)

A vote in the Turkish Parliament was scheduled for October 1, 2014 on whether or not to invade Syria as part of the war on ISIL.[69] while preparations for a possible invasion were made.[70] It was later delayed a day.

The de facto "declaration of war" is to take the form of two separate motions—one on Iraq and one on Syria, which would authorize Turkish troops to invade those countries.[71] the opposition said they hadn't been able to read either motion, as the exact text had been delayed.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said that the gist of the resolutions was to extend the current mandate for "hot pursuit" against the PKK and Syrian Army into Syria and Iraq, which was to end the second week in October, and to add ISIS to the list and set up a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border.[72]

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened the parliamentary session by saying that Turkey would fight against so called Islamic State and other "terrorist" groups in the region but it would stick to its aim of seeing Bashar al-Assad removed from power.[73]

After two days of heated debate, the motion passed 298-98,[74]

Rumored invasion and airstrike plans (2015)

With the governing party losing its majority in the Turkish general election on 7 June 2015, rumors began to circulate that President Erdoğan would order an invasion of Syria to prevent the creation of a Kurdish state straddling northern Syria and Iraq.[75]

On June 26, Erdogan said he would "never allow the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria".[76] By the end of June, a number of Turkish newspapers reported that Ankara was considering a ground operation to establish a buffer zone in Northern Syria to prevent Syrian Kurds from declaring an independent state,[77] a zone 110 km long and 33 km deep along the Turkish border.[76]

The military demanded legal backing for such a move,[78][79] and on 29 June 2015, Erdoğan chaired a meeting of the National Security Council to provide just that.[80]

Leaked plans stated that, sometime during the first couple of weeks of July, up to 18 thousand troops would invade Syria via the Jarablus and Aazaz border crossings, areas in the hands of ISIL and the Free Syrian Army, respectively, and set up a buffer zone to which refugees could be repatriated.[81]

Limiting intervention to airstrikes has also been discussed.[82] The idea of going into Syria proved extremely unpopular with most sections of Turkish society, dissuading the government from invading.[83]

February 2016 Turkey's pressing for ground operations in Syria

On February 2016 Turkey and Saudi Arabia were pressing for ground operations in Syria, hoping for the involvement of the U.S. and the other allies.[84]

Hezbollah said Turkey and Saudi Arabia were using the Islamic State group as a "pretext" to launch a ground operation in Syria.[85]

Incirlik Air Base

On October 13, 2014 Turkey denied the United States to use Incirlik Air Base for attacking ISIS militants in Syria.[86] The US has been frustrated that its efforts to build an international coalition to tackle Isis forces from the air have been partly hobbled by the difficulty of getting Turkey engaged.[87] Later, on July 23, 2015 after long negotiations with USA, Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. planes to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants. The U.S. officials declined to give details of the agreement with Turkey.[88] On February 25, 2016, Saudi Arabian war planes began arriving at the base as part of an anti-Isis build-up being deployed over Syria. The Saudi deployment added to US, German and British aircraft already using the base.[89]

on April 2 and 3, the families of U.S. troops and civilian personnel stationed at İncirlik Air Base left the base after an order by the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department to leave several areas of Turkey for their security.[90]

The July 2015 crisis and Military escalation

In July 2015, relations between ISIL and Turkey deteriorated, and people on the Turkish side of the border began to get killed, leading the Turkish government to pursue military action.

7 July: Turkish seizure of explosives

On 7 July 2015, reports surfaced that Turkish security forces seized a truck bound for Syria loaded with 10,000 detonators and explosive primers with total length of 290,000 metres (950,000 feet) in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey. Five people were arrested. The detainees admitted attempts of crossing the border from the village of Aegean into Tal Abyad city in the Al-Raqqah Province.[91]

20 July: ISIL terrorist attack

On 20 July 2015, a cultural center in Suruç was bombed by a 20-year-old male Turkish ISIL member.[92] 32 people were killed in the town of Suruç's municipal culture center in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, and at least 100 people were hospitalised.[93]

23 July: cross-border fire fight

One Turkish sergeant was killed by fire from ISIL forces in Syria, and four Turkish tanks returned fire into ISIL held territory in Syria.[94] At least one ISIL militant was killed and an unknown number wounded.

24 July: Airstrikes begin

Early on 24 July, three Turkish F-16 Fighting Falcons struck ISIL targets across the border from Kilis Province with smart bombs, the Turkish government announced.[95] According to the Doğan news agency, as many as 35 ISIL militants were killed in this first air strike.[96]

The Turkish government claimed that this was to prevent an attempted invasion by ISIL troops.[97]

Government officials also announced that the US was allowed to use the İncirlik Airbase in southern Turkey, and the agreement by the Americans to allow Turkey to set up a no-fly zone fifty miles deep and several hundred miles wide within Syria, between Mare' and Jarabulus.[98][99]

26 July: Turkey accused of shelling Kurds in Syria

YPG (Syrian Kurds) accused Turkey that, on July 26, Turkish tanks shelled in the Kurdish-held village of Zormikhar, west of Kobane and, also, one of its vehicles had come "under heavy fire from the Turkish military east of Kobane in the village of Til Findire". Turkey said it was investigating the claim but insisted that its forces were not targeting Syrian Kurds.[100]

October 2015 Turkish attack at Kurdish forces in Syria

On 24 and 25 October 2015, Kurds accused the Turkish military of opening fire at its forces in Tal Abyad after the majority Arab town was included into a Kurdish enclave. The Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed it and he said that Turkey had warned the PYD not to cross to the "west of the Euphrates and that we would hit it the moment it did. "We hit it twice,".[101][102] There were no casualties in the shooting and the Kurdish forces didn't return fire.[103]

On October 25, Turkish forces also attacked the village of Buban. During the attack two civilians wounded.[104]

November 2015 Turkish shootdown of Russian Su-24

Turkish F-16s shoot down a Russian Su-24 operating in Northern Latakia. Both occupants ejected successfully. The pilot was shot and killed by Syrian Turkmen rebel ground fire while descending by parachute.[105] The weapon systems officer was rescued two days later.[106] A Russian naval infantryman from the search-and-rescue team launched to retrieve the two airmen was also killed when a rescue helicopter was shot down by the rebels.

A Turkish survey has revealed that over half of Turkey’s population believe that Turkey was right in downing a Russian jet. Some 58.2 percent of respondents regard the act as a positive thing, while 41.8 percent said it was the wrong move. The majority of those who supported the move said that “it showed that Turkey was a big country,”.[107]

December 2015

On December 2015, Turkey rejected to join the anti-ISIL quartet of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Russia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he rejected it due to the presence of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.[108]

February 2016

Turkish shelling at Kurds and Syrian forces in Syria

1 February

On 1 February Syria accused the Turkish military of shelling a location in the country’s northern Latakia province. Because of the shelling civilians had been injured.[109] Syrian government condemned the attack.[109]

Also, the Russian Defense Ministry presented a video which claims that shows Turkish military shelling Syrian territory using heavy artillery positioned close to the border.[109][110] According to Syria’s General Staff, Syrian opposition groups have also provided video evidence of the Turkish military shelling Syrian territory.[110]

13–14 February

On 13 February 2016, Turkey began heavy artillery bombing of Kurds in North Aleppo and at Azaz as they advanced against opposition groups.[111] The US urged Turkey to stop the shelling of the Kurds and focus on fighting the group Islamic State (IS),[112] however, Turkey defied the US and French calls and continued the shelling the next day too.[113] Also, in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey will continue to strike back at Kurdish fighters in Syria.[113] Kurdish officials said that at least three YPG fighters have died since the shelling started on Saturday.[114]

Syria called the Turkish strikes a violation of its territory, and urged UN Security Council action to "put an end to the crimes of the Turkish regime".[113] It also accused Ankara of allowing some 100 gunmen to enter Syria, also, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 350 Islamist fighters had been allowed to travel through Turkish territory on Saturday 14 February 2016 to reinforce Islamist rebels in Azaz and Tal Rifaat.[113]

Turkish artillery also targeted Syrian forces on both days.[115][116]

15 February

On 15 February, Turkey hit again Kurdish forces in Syria. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said the strikes came after a border security outpost in the Hatay area was attacked.[117] In addition, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Turkish troops were shelling, also, the road to the west of the town of Tal Rifaat and also the region to the west of the Syrian border town of Azaz, but failed to stop the advance of the Kurdish forces.[118]

16 February

On 16 February, Turkish forces continued to shell the positions of Syrian Kurds in northern Syria for the fourth day. Turkish military said that it was retaliating to fire coming from the region.[119]

Turkey urged its NATO allies to participate in a ground offensive in Syria to fight ISIS while continuing to shell YPG positions.[120]

17 February

On 17 February, Turkish forces continued to shell the positions of Syrian Kurds in northern Syria for fifth day in a row. Turkish artillery units deployed at the border in the Kilis Province shelled the positions of the PYD at around 4.45 p.m. within the rules of engagement. The Turkish military stating it was “retaliating” to fire coming from the region.[121]

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would continue shelling Kurdish militants across the border in Syria, despite calls from Washington and other Western capitals to halt the attacks.[122]

18 February

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, after a suicide car bombing attack in Ankara, that Turkey would continue the shelling of YPG positions in northern Syria.[123]

Opposition groups reported that over the previous few days they had brought over 2,000 reinforcements with heavy equipment from the Idlib area, through Turkey assisted by Turkish forces, to fight against Kurdish militias north of Aleppo and to support rebels in Azaz.[124]

19 February

Turkish artillery units shelled again PYD targets in northern Syria.[125]

23 February

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said that Turkey’s shelling of YPG forces in northern Syria would be an “ongoing topic of conversation” between USA and Turkey.[126]

Turkey's pressing for ground operations in Syria

On 16 February 2016 Turkey and Saudi Arabia were pressing for ground operations in Syria, hoping for the involvement of the U.S. and the other allies.[84]

Hezbollah said Turkey and Saudi Arabia were using the Islamic State group as a "pretext" to launch a ground operation in Syria.[85]

Turkey's proposal for a safe and no-fly zone inside Syria

On 17 February 2016, as Syrian Kurdish forces advance on the Turkish border, Ankara has called for a safe zone, "free from clashes", and No-fly zone inside Syria, in order to protect border and refugees.[127]

The proposal has not garner any real support from Washington or NATO allies who fear it would require an internationally patrolled no-fly zone and potentially put them in direct confrontation with Assad and his allies. Only, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, that such a "safe zone" would be "helpful in the current situation."[127]

Russia with dominance over Syria's skies, come out against the idea and, also, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: "This is not Merkel's initiative, this is a Turkish initiative." In addition, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that any decision to create a no-fly zone over Syria cannot be made without the approval of the government in Damascus as well as the UN Security Council.[127]

February 2016 Ankara bombing

On 17 February 2016, in Ankara, a car bombing attack happened at night. The attack targeted a convoy of military vehicles.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed a Syrian Kurdish militia fighter working with Kurdish militants inside Turkey for a suicide car bombing, and he vowed retaliation in both Syria and Iraq. He also, said that Turkey's armed forces would continue their shelling of recent days of YPG positions in northern Syria. President Tayyip Erdogan also said initial findings suggested the Syrian Kurdish militia and the PKK were behind the bombing.[123]

On the other hand, the political arm of the YPG, denied involvement in the bombing, while a senior member of the PKK said he did not know who was responsible.[123] Also, the head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) said that Turkey is using this attack as a "pretext" to intervene in Syria.[128] The leader of the main Syrian Kurdish group Salih Muslim Muhammad said that Turkey's accusations that the PYD was behind the bombing are made up and that Turkey was trying to escalate the situation in Syria.[129]

U.S.-Russia–brokered cease-fire deal

On 22 February 2016, U.S. and Russia announced a deal for a truce to take effect in Syria on 27 February, referred to as “cessation of hostilities”. On 24 February, Turkish president, Erdoğan, during a speech said that “The PYD and the YPG need to be out of the scope of the cease-fire, just like Daesh (ISIL) is.”[67]

On February 25, Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that Turkey would not comply with the truce: "This deal is not binding for us when a party is of threat to Turkey, when Turkey’s security is at stake".[130]

March 2016

On 4 March, the YPG militia said that Turkey′s tanks had fired dozens of shells at its positions in the area of Afrin in northwest Syria.[131] Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that Turkey continues to shell Kurdish forces in Syria, hampering their operations against Al-Nusra, and at the same time funneling supplies to the militant-controlled areas at the border.[132] Furthermore, according to the head of the Russian ceasefire monitoring center Lt. Gen. Sergey Kuralenko, militants continue to freely cross the Turkish-Syrian border and, also, Turkish trucks crossed the Turkish-Syrian border, carrying supplies and arms exclusively to the territories controlled by Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham groups. In addition, he presented a reconnaissance video which he claimed that it confirmed his accusations.[133][134]

On 6 March, according to Lieutenant General Sergey Kuralenko, Head of the Center for Reconciliation, jihadist militants of Jabhat Al-Nusra in Syria shelled Turkish area in an attempt to provoke a response that could lead to Ankara sending troops into the neighboring country, a move which would inevitably lead to the disruption of the peace process.[135]

On 8 March, Mortar shells fired from Syria in Turkey and killed 2 civilians, the Turkish military returned fire into Syria. According to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Islamic State militants were responsible for the attack.[136]

On 13 March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia has evidence of Turkey's "creeping expansion" in northern Syria. He accused Turkey of fortifying positions hundreds of metres from the border, inside Syria and also sending its military across the Syrian border for Operation Against Kurds and to prevent Kurdish groups there from consolidating their positions.[137][138][139] Turkey denied the Russian claims.[140]

On 18 March, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin sent a letter to the UN Security Council saying that three Turkish humanitarian organizations (NGOs) sent weapons and supplies to extremists in Syria on behalf of Turkey's MIT intelligence agency. The three NGOs were the Besar Foundation, the Iyilikder Foundation and the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms (IHH).[141][142]

April 2016

Manbij operation

On April, the U.S. has asked for Turkey’s support to the Manbij offensive, but Turkey had two demands in exchange for helping the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition. Turkey first demanded that the Syrian Arab tribes to be included in the Manbij operation should leave the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is under the control of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and also the U.S. must increase its air strikes for groups Turkey supports.[143]

On 4 April, according to a Turkish source, a group of U.S. military and intelligence staff traveled to Turkey to work on a plan for an operation to liberate Manbij.[144]

ISIL fire rockets at Turkish border and Turkey's response

On April 22, three people were killed and six others were wounded when ISIL rocket projectiles hit the border province of Kilis.[145]

On April 24, two rockets fired from ISIL hit Kilis. 16 people were wounded, six of whom were Syrian citizens.[146]

On April 25, the Turkish General Staff has announced that eight militants of the ISIL were killed the same day when Turkish artillery units shelled a missile launcher.[147] Also, the same day the U.S.-led coalition hit ISIL targets in northern Syria, located directly across from the southeastern province of Kilis.[148]

On April 26, according to the Turkish army, two missile launchers belonging to the ISIL were destroyed in an artillery strike which also killed 11 ISIL militants. This was the second such initiative by the Turkish Army in the past two days.[149]

On April 27, according to Turkish sources, 13 ISIL militants were killed when Turkish artillery units shelled a building in the Duwaibik region to the north of Aleppo. The building used by ISIL militants collapsed, killing 13 militants inside and injuring another seven. Around 150 Katyusha rocket projectiles stored on the ground floor of the building were also destroyed. The same day Turkish artillery units also shelled two missile launchers and killed 11 ISIL militants.[150]

On April 28, five mortar shells targeting a border military post in the Karkamış district of the southeastern province of Gaziantep were fired by the ISIL. 11 ISIL militants were killed in Turkish artillery shellings following the attack according to Turkish sources.[151]

On April 29, two rocket projectiles fired by the ISIL hit the border province of Kilis in Turkey.[152]

May 2016

1 May

On May 1, a MQ-1 modelled drone belonging to the U.S.-led coalition hit a bomb factory belonging to the ISIL and destroyed it. The drone took off from the İncirlik Air Base. Two ISIL militants were killed as a result of the airstrike and many others were trapped in the building that was hit, according to Anadolu Agency. Meanwhile, the Turkish army fired howitzers at ISIL positions in Syria and nine militants were killed as a result, after ISIL fired three rockets from Syria at Turkey’s southern border province of Kilis.[153]

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has demanded raising awareness on the Kilis to the U.S. Department of State. Turkey also demanded the deployment of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket launchers at Turkey’s Syria border. According to Turkey, such moves would push ISIL militants southwards, leaving the border province of Kilis out of battery ranges.[154]

2 May

Two persons were killed when two Katyusha rockets fired from the ISIL in Syria hit the southeastern border town of Kilis.[155][156] The Turkish military returned fire into Syria, hitting ISIL targets, according to military sources.[157]

Four MQ-1 drones took off from the İncirlik Air Base to strike ISIL targets under the campaign of the anti-ISIL coalition. Five weapon pits belonging to the jihadist group were destroyed and 29 militants were killed in the airstrikes, according to information and images obtained from the region.[158]

3 May

Two rocket projectiles hit the border province of Kilis.[159] Turkish artillery units responded to the attack by shelling ISIL positions and firing multiple rocket launchers after unmanned aerial vehicles spotted where the rockets were fired. Six ISIL militants were killed and two Katyusha rocket positions were destroyed, according to the army.[160]

4 May

Two Katyusha rockets fired by ISIL hit the southeastern border town of Kilis. The Turkish army responded by firing howitzers toward ISIL targets, reportedly destroying two ISIL Katyusha positions and killed three ISIL militants.[161]

5 May

Nine Katyusha rockets hit Kilis. The Turkish army said that four ISIL militants were killed and the weapon launching sites that the attack was carried out from was destroyed.[162]

The governor’s office in Kilis released an official statement declared the province a “special security area,” effective for 15 days until 5:00 p.m. on May 20.[163]

6 May

Four rockets fired from northern Syria by ISIL hit Kilis.[164]

7 May

A group of 20 Turkish special forces teams reportedly conducted operations in ISIL-held areas in northern Syria at around 1.30 a.m. to scout the region to help destroy missile launchers, after a 10-day intelligence and preparation process. U.S. and Russian military officials were also reportedly informed of the operation.[165]

Also, in the morning hours, the Turkish military carried out four separate air strikes against ISIL positions in northern Syria, as part of a joint effort and intelligence with the U.S.-led coalition forces. Two Katyusha rockets were fired from ISIL positions in Syria on the southeastern province of Kilis following the air strikes. Turkish armed forces responded to the attack by shelling ISIL targets with howitzers from the border.[166]

In the evening hours, reconnaissance and surveillance vehicles spotted ISIL positions in the Suran region north of Aleppo and the Baragidah and Kuşacık regions northeast of Tal el Hişn. Army shelled them. A total of 55 ISIL militants were killed in the shellings, while three vehicles and three rocket launchers belonging to the jihadist group were also destroyed.[167]

11 May

A total of 28 ISIL militants were killed by Turkey and U.S.-led coalition in operations targeting positions belonging to the jihadist group in Syria, security sources have said.[168]

15 May

Some 27 ISIL militants were killed and five defense positions and two weapon pits used by the jihadist group were also destroyed in shelling by the Turkish army and air operations by the U.S.-led coalition forces in northern Syria.[169]

17 May

During an International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting in Vienna, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that if Moscow has any evidence that shows Turkey helping the ISIL then he would resign.[170]

23 May bombing attacks at Tartous and Jableh

The Syrian government has accused Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia of being behind a wave of bombings in the coastal cities of Tartous and Jableh.[171][172] At least five suicide bombers and two devices planted in cars killed nearly 150 people and wounded at least 200. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.[173][174] The attacks were the first of their kind in Tartous and in Jableh.[175][176] This part of Syria had escaped the worst of the civil war till these attacks.[177][178] These cities were government-controlled territory that hosted Russian military bases. Russia had a naval base in Tartous and an air base near Jableh. [179][180]

27 May

Russian General Staff Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy told journalists that Al-Nusra Front is receiving daily arms shipments across the border from Turkey and that Al-Nusra Front remains a major destabilizing factor in Syria. He also added that Al-Nusra Front often attack the Syrian Government forces despite the cease-fire and that the attacks are confirmed by other nations as well.[181]

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was very angry because of some photos which showed US special forces in Syria wearing insignia of Kurdish militia (patch of the YPJ), during joint operations against Islamic State (IS). He called the US "two-faced" and said the practice was "unacceptable". Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said it is common for US soldiers to attempt to blend in with local partners.[182]

Five people were injured when rockets fired from ISIL-controlled territory in northern Syria hit Turkey’s border province of Kilis.[183]

28 May

Two rockets were fired at Turkish territory from ISIL-controlled territory in Syria. No injuries were reported.[184] Turkish military hit ISIL positions in northern Syria as a retaliation for the rocket attack.[185]

31 May

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey has proposed to USA a detailed plan for joint military operation against jihadists inside Syria with the Americans and other allied troops. But U.S. officials denied it and said that Turkey had not offered a detailed plan but only a few basic concepts which involved joint efforts only to support non-Kurdish forces.[186]

Refugees

Satellite images confirmed that the first Syrian camps appeared in Turkey in July 2011, shortly after the towns of Deraa, Homs and Hama were besieged.[187] By June 2013, Turkey has accepted 400,000 Syrian refugees, half of whom are spread around a dozen camps placed under the direct authority of the Turkish Government.[188] In 2014, the number swelled over a million, as some 200-300,000 Syrian Kurds streamed into Turkey in September alone, upon the Siege of Kobane.

The population of Syrian refugees in Turkey has 30 percent in 22 government-run camps near the Syrian-Turkish border.[189] The rest do their best to make ends meet in communities across the country.

Turkey has accepted over 1.5 million Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War.[190] Turkey has accommodated most of its Syrian refugees in tent cities administered by the country's emergency management agency.[191]

According to Amnesty International, Turkish guards routinely shoot at Syrian refugees stranded at the border,[192] also, Turkey has forcibly returned thousands of Syrian refugees to war zone since mid-January 2016.[193]

On May 10, 2016, Human Rights Watch said Turkish border guards were shooting and beating Syrian refugees trying to reach Turkey, resulting in deaths and serious injuries.[194] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied it.[195]

On May 18, 2016, lawmakers from the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) have said that Turkey should not use Syrian refugees as a bribe for the process of visa liberalization for Turkish citizens inside the European Union.[196]

Related criticism of Turkey

Turkey has been accused of supporting or colluding with ISIL, especially by Syrian Kurds.[197][198] Syrian Kurds and the Turkey's main Kurdish party, HDP, accused Turkey of allowing ISIL soldiers to cross its border and attack the Kurdish town of Kobanî. They also claimed that Islamic State snipers were hiding among grain depots on the Turkish side of the border and firing on the town.[199][200] In addition. the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the vehicle which is used in a car bombing attack at Kobanî had come from Turkey.[200] According to journalist Patrick Cockburn, there is "strong evidence for a degree of collaboration" between the Turkish intelligence services and ISIL, although the "exact nature of the relationship ... remains cloudy".[201] David L. Phillips of Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, who compiled a list of allegations and claims accusing Turkey of assisting ISIL, writes that these allegations "range from military cooperation and weapons transfers to logistical support, financial assistance, and the provision of medical services".[202] Several ISIL fighters and commanders have claimed Turkey supports ISIL.[203][204][205] A former ISIS member mentioned that the ISIS groups were essentially given free rein by Turkey's army. He said: "ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks,". "ISIS saw the Turkish army as its ally especially when it came to attacking the Kurds in Syria."[206] Within Turkey itself, ISIL is believed to have caused increasing political polarisation between secularists and Islamists.[207] A video taken in October 2014 shows Turkish soldiers fraternising with Isis fighters near Kobane.[208] Turkish security forces dispersed Kurds who had gathered at the Turkish border with Syria to cross into Syria and fight with Kurdish militants against ISIS.[209] Oliver North tweeted a photograph which he claimed that it shows a Turkish soldier talking friendly with an ISIS anti-aircraft unit.[210]

In addition, Kurds accuse Turkey of using the US-led coalition against IS as a cover to attack the Kurdish PKK in both Turkey and Iraq, and now against the YPG in northern Syria. The Kurds say that Turkey 's bombardment of their positions is helping IS to attack Kurdish-held frontline areas in Syria and Iraq. IS militants attacked Syrian Kurdish villages south of Kobane a day after Turkey began shelling the YPG.[211]

Also, authorities in Turkey have confirmed social media reports that an injured ISIL commander is being treated in a Denizli hospital, saying the militant has every right to receive medical care as he is a Turkish citizen.[212]

Turkey has been further criticized for allowing individuals from outside the region to enter its territory and join ISIL in Syria.[213][214] With many Islamist fighters passing through Turkey to fight in Syria, Turkey has been accused of becoming a transit country for such fighters and has been labeled the "Gateway to Jihad".[215] Turkish border patrol officers are reported to have deliberately overlooked those entering Syria upon the payment of a small bribe.[215] A report by Sky News exposed documents showing that passports of foreign Islamists wanting to join ISIL by crossing into Syria had been stamped by the Turkish government.[216] American website Al-Monitor stated in June 2014 that Turkey, during the Syrian Civil War, by "ignoring its own border security", had allowed its Syrian border to become a "jihadist highway" for ISIL to let thousands of international jihadists, and other supplies, reach Syria.[217][218] British newspaper The Guardian stated that Turkey late 2014 "for many months did little to stop foreign recruits crossing its border to Isis".[219] An ISIL commander stated that "most of the fighters who joined us in the beginning of the war came via Turkey, and so did our equipment and supplies",[205] adding that ISIL fighters received treatment in Turkish hospitals.[205] After the 2015 attacks at Paris, President Barack Obama administration told the Turkish government to close its borders to ISIS fighters. A USA senior official said in the Wall Street Journal "The game has changed. Enough is enough. The border needs to be sealed,” “This is an international threat, and it’s coming out of Syria and it’s coming through Turkish territory.”.[220]

Turkey has openly supported jihadi groups, such as Ahrar ash-Sham, which espouses much of al-Qaida’s ideology, and Jabhat al-Nusra, which is proscribed as a terror organisation by much of the US and Europe.[221]

Turkey reported that between 1957 and 1998, Turkish forces laid 615,419 antipersonnel mines along the Syrian border “to prevent illegal border crossings,” These mines are killing Syrians stuck on the border or trying to cross near Kobani. Turkey is required under the Mine Ban Treaty, to destroy all antipersonnel mines, but has missed deadlines. Human Rights Watch claims in its report that as of November 18 over 2,000 civilians were still in the Tel Shair corridor section of the mine belt due to the fact that Turkey had been refusing entry for cars or livestock, and the refugees did not want to leave behind their belongings.[222]

Russia told that for a long time has been aware of oil going from Syria under the control of terrorists to Turkey. The money finances terrorist groups. Vladimir Putin said that “IS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation. One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly. Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world, including in the heart of Europe,”.[223] Also, Western intelligence officials said that they can track the ISIS oil shipments as they move across Iraq and into Turkey’s southern border regions.[224] The Obama administration was struggling to cut off the millions of dollars in oil revenue that has made the ISIS, but they were unable to persuade Turkey.[224] In addition, the former Iraqi member of Parliament Mowaffak al-Rubaie has accused Turkey of turning a blind eye to the black market ISIS oil trade. He said that there is “no shadow of a doubt” that the Turkish government knows about the oil smuggling operations. “The merchants, the businessmen [are buying oil] in the black market in Turkey under the noses – under the auspices if you like – of the Turkish intelligence agency and the Turkish security apparatus.”[225] In June 2014, a member of Turkey's parliamentary opposition, Ali Edibogluan, claimed that IS had smuggled $800 million worth of oil into Turkey from Syria and Iraq.[226] Sadik Al Hiseni, the head of the security committee in the city of Diyala in Iraq, says they have arrested several Turkish tankers trying to take ISIS oil out of the province of Salahuddin.[227]

Vladimir Putin, also, accused the Turkish government that it is purposely leading the country toward Islamization.[228] Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said “Turkey’s actions are de facto protection of Islamic State,” Medvedev said, calling the group formerly known as ISIS by its new name. “This is no surprise, considering the information we have about direct financial interest of some Turkish officials relating to the supply of oil products refined by plants controlled by ISIS.”[229]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that most of the oil produced in Islamic State-held territory in Iraq and Syria was being smuggled through Turkey.[230] He also mentioned that he sees no evidence that Turkey wants to fight ISIS.[231] In addition he told that Turkey wants to revive the Ottoman Empire.[231]

Sadi Pria, a top Iraqi Kurdish official in Irbil said: "Turkey shamelessly and openly backs IS and al-Qaeda terrorists against Kurdish freedom fighters,".[232]

Israel's defence minister, Moshe Ya'alon, has accused Turkey of buying oil from the ISIS and funds ISIS militants. He, also, said that Turkey had "permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back".[233]

The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, said that he was not optimistic that Turkey would do more in the fight against the Islamic State. “I think Turkey has other priorities and other interests.” He also cited public opinion polls in Turkey that show Turks do not see the Islamic State as a primary threat.[234]

Vice President of USA, Joe Biden, during a speech at Harvard accused Turkey and the Gulf countries of funding, supplying and supporting ISIL.[235]

Donald Trump accused Turkey of being at the side of ISIS.[236]

A senior Jordanian security official accused Turkey of training ISIS fighters.[237] The King of Jordan, Abdullah, said that the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “believes in a radical Islamic solution to the problems in the region” and the “fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy, and Turkey keeps getting a slap on the hand, but they get off the hook”.[238]

Egypt has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being a supporter of terrorists who seek to "provoke chaos" in the Middle East.[239] Also, an Egyptian security official said that Turkey is providing direct support to ISIS and that Turkish intelligence is passing satellite imagery and other data to ISIS.[240] Egypt, also, claimed that Turkey provided more than 10,000 passports to ISIS members to facilitate travel of its fighters across the region. Egypt official further charged that Istanbul is serving as the “headquarters” for ISIS planning.[241]

The Minister of Defense of Armenia, Seyran Ohanyan, accused Turkey of supporting ISIS.[242]

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulidis, questioned Turkey’s determination to fight ISIS.[243]

Eren Erdem, member of the main opposition at Turkey, CHP, accused the Turkish Government that it failed to investigate Turkish supply routes used to provide ISIL with toxic Sarin gas ingredients.[244] Because of this statement, he faces treason charges at Turkey.[245]

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, warned the Turkish government not to provide money and training to terror groups. He said, "It isn't right for armed groups to be trained on Turkish soil. You bring foreign fighters to Turkey, put money in their pockets, guns in their hands, and you ask them to kill Muslims in Syria. We told them to stop helping ISIS."[246] He, also, said after the 2015 Ankara bombings that the Turkish Government is "protecting" the ISIL and that "the police department knows all", “the only reason for not having security measures taken or for not having them [suspects] detained is the absence of an instruction from the political authority to fulfill whatever was required. That’s to say, its [the political authority’s] protection of ISIL. This is not an observation, I’m saying this very openly and clearly,”.[247] At 16 February 2016, Kılıçdaroğlu has repeated accusations that the Turkish government has sent arms to jihadist groups in Syria and built jihadist training camp in Turkey.[248]

Russian anti-drug chief mentioned that ISIS is using Turkey for trafficking heroin to Europe. He, also, believes that ISIS makes about $1 billion from Afghan heroin trade.[249][250]

Turkey's state intelligence agency, MIT, has been accused that it helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control.[251] Turkish journalists who exposed it have charged with spying and “divulging state secrets” from the Turkish court.[252][253] One of the journalists claimed:"Those who sent the convoy from Turkey knew that the weapons were “heading to end [up] in ISIS hands".[253] Also, Turkish officers, who intercepted some of the intelligence agency’s weapons-filled trucks have faced spying charges.[253] In addition, Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet, published a video footage which it said showed security forces discovering weapons parts being sent to Syria on trucks belonging to the MIT state intelligence agency.[254]

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad during an interview at 2015 mentioned that military and logistic support from Turkey was the key factor in ISIL takeover of Idlib (2015 Idlib offensive), he also blamed Turkey for the failure of a humanitarian ceasefire plan in Aleppo. He told that: "The Turks told the factions - the terrorists that they support and they supervise - to refuse to cooperate with de Mistura".[255]

Syria's antiquities chief has accused Turkey of refusing to return looted objects from ancient heritage sites in Syria or to provide information about them.[256] Also, Turkey have been accused that she lets ISIL smuggles Syrian antiquities through her.[257]

In an official letter to UN, the Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin stated that antiquities from Syria and Iraq are exported to Turkey. The main center for the smuggling of cultural heritage items is the Turkish city of Gaziantep, where the stolen goods are sold at illegal auctions. According to the envoy, new smuggling hubs are popping up on the Turkish-Syrian border, with the “bulky goods” being delivered by the Turkish transport companies. Smuggled artifacts then arrive in the Turkish cities of Izmir, Mersin and Antalya, where representatives of international criminal groups produce fake documents on the origin of the antiquities.[258]

According to Gatestone Institute, Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and Südwestrundfunk (SWR) ISIS was selling women and children in Turkey. Also, Consortium of Public Broadcasters in Germany (ARD) produced a footage documenting the slave trade being conducted by the Islamic State (ISIS) in Turkey. After these reports the Gaziantep Bar Association filed a criminal complaint against "Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and law-enforcement officers that have committed neglect of duty and misconduct by not taking required measures, and not carrying out preventive and required intelligence activities before the media covered the said incidents.".[259]

Iran accused Turkey that she is the main culprits in supporting the terrorist movements of ISIL.[260]

Katrin Kunert, a German Parliamentarian from the Green Party leaked a classified document which showed that Turkey was delivering arms to Syrian rebel groups.[261]

Hezbollah Chief, Hassan Nasrallah, accused Turkey and Qatar for supporting ISIS.[262]

Hamas, justified the killing of Muath Al-Kasasbeh and said that Jordan should have adopted a similar position with Turkey and not fight ISIS. “IS members are, in one way or another, considered Muslims and we must not stand with the enemies of Allah against the people of Allah (the IS).” "It (Jordan) should have adopted a similar position to Turkey.”[263][264][265]

A US-led raid, at which the ISIS official responsible for oil smuggling Abu Sayyaf was killed, produced evidence that Turkish officials directly dealt with ranking ISIS members. Senior Western official familiar with the captured intelligence told the Observer that “There are hundreds of flash drives and documents that were seized there,”. “They are being analysed at the moment, but the links are already so clear that they could end up having profound policy implications for the relationship between us and Ankara.”[221]

Serena Shim, a journalist of Press TV was killed at a car crash with a heavy vehicle in Turkey in what are claimed, by her employer and her parents, to be suspicious circumstances. The car crash happened just days after she claimed that the Turkey's state intelligence agency, MIT, had threatened her and accused her of spying, due to some of the stories she had covered about Turkey’s stance on ISIL militants in Kobane. She also claimed that she had received images of ISIL militants crossing the Turkish border into Syria in World Food Organization and other NGOs trucks.[266][267][268][269]

At December 2015, Turkey rejected to join the anti-ISIL quartet of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Russia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he rejected it due to the presence of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.[108]

At January 2016, The Guardian obtained documents which show that ISIL ran a sophisticated immigration operation through the Syrian border town of Tell Abyad with Turkey until its defeat by Kurds. The border crossing remained open until Kurdish forces took control of the town (Tell Abyad offensive), at which point Turkey promptly sealed it. David Phillips, an academic at Columbia University and author of two recent research papers into links between Turkey and ISIS, alleges that the country “knows the movements of all persons and can control the flow across the border if it chooses”. He said there was “a steady stream of vehicles, individuals, weapons, financing, oil going back and forth”, adding: “It’s not like people are putting on their hiking boots and crossing over rough terrain. There’s an extensive surface transport network which is highly regulated and controlled ... on both sides of the border.”. Academic researcher Aymenn al-Tamimi, an expert on examining Isis documents, said he had no doubt about the authenticity of the manifests. “The documents ... coincide with other documents illustrating daily bus routes within Islamic State territory. Though private companies provide the actual transportation, the Islamic State bureaucracy is responsible for authorising and overseeing the routes,” he said. A senior Turkish government official, in response to the Guardian’s claims, said that Turkey was doing everything it could to stop the influx of foreign fighters, including cracking down on recruitment and logistic networks such as travel agents mentioned in the documents.[270]

Anonymous launched Cyber-attacks on Turkey after accusing it of supporting ISIS by buying oil from them and treating their wounded in hospital. They have also told that they will continue the attacks as long as Turkey is supporting ISIS.[271]

Columbia University assigned a team of researchers in the United States, Europe, and Turkey to examine Turkish and international media assessing the credibility of allegations and published a research paper entitled "ISIS-Turkey Links". The report draws on a variety of international sources and present many allegations that appeared in the media.[246]

In an email to The Guardian, Noam Chomsky accused Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of hypocrisy. He said: “Turkey blamed Isis (for the attack on Istanbul at 2016), which Erdoğan has been aiding in many ways, while also supporting the al-Nusra Front, which is hardly different."[272]

Jacques Behnan Hindo, the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Hasakeh-Nisibi, accused Turkey of preventing Christians from fleeing Syria while allowing jihadists to cross its border unchecked. He said on the Vatican Radio, "In the north, Turkey allows through lorries, Daesh (ISIS) fighters, oil stolen from Syria, wheat and cotton: all of these can cross the border but nobody (from the Christian community) can pass over.". He claimed it a day after ISIL abducted more than 90 Assyrian Christians from villages.[273][274]

Transcripts of telephone calls between IS jihadists and Turkish officers has been revealed.[275][276]

Members of the Democratic Union Party (Kurds) accused the Turkish military of opening fire at its forces in Tal Abyad after the majority Arab town was included into a Kurdish enclave after fights with ISIS soldiers. The Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed it and he said that Turkey had warned the PYD not to cross to the "west of the Euphrates and that we would hit it the moment it did. "We hit it twice,".[101]

Turkey, at January 2016, didn't allow Kurdish groups from northern Syria to take part in peace talks in Geneva. Turkish PM said that the participation of YPG represents a 'direct threat' to his country.[277]

On February 2016, US urged Turkey to stop the shelling of the Kurds and focus on fighting the ISIL.[112]

On February 2016, Syria and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights accused Turkey of allowing Islamist fighters to travel through Turkish territory to reinforce Islamist rebels in Azaz and Tal Rifaat.[113]

On February 2016, Hezbollah said Turkey and Saudi Arabia were using the Islamic State group as a "pretext" to launch a ground operation in Syria, after Turkey's suggestion to the U.S. and other allies in an international coalition against the Islamic State group for ground operations in Syria.[85]

On 10 February 2016, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin sent a letter to the UN Security Council. He said in the letter that recruiters from ISIL had reportedly established a network in the Turkish city of Antalya for foreign fighters from the former Soviet Union. He also said in the letter that, in September, a group of 1,000 IS fighters from Europe and Central Asia were taken from Turkey to Syria through the border crossing at Gaziantep. In addition, he claimed that in early 2015, Turkish intelligence services reportedly helped move ethnic Tatars who were fighting for the Al-Qaeda aligned Nusra Front from Antalya to Eskişehir and, also, that it was helping to fly ISIL militants from Syria through Turkey to Yemen using Turkish military air transport, or by sea to Yemen's port of Aden.[278]

On 17 February 2016, at least 500 armed fighters crossed the Turkish border heading for the Syrian town of Azaz to fight against the Kurdish forces according to the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.[279]

After the February 2016 Ankara bombing the head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) denied any involvement and said that Turkey is using this attack as a "pretext" to intervene in Syria.[128]

According to Amnesty International, Turkish guards routinely shoot at Syrian refugees stranded at the border,[280] also, Turkey has forcibly returned thousands of Syrian refugees to war zone since mid-January 2016.[281]

According to Human Rights Watch, Turkish border guards were shooting and beating Syrian refugees trying to reach Turkey, resulting in deaths and serious injuries.[282] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan denied it.[283]

Journalist Arzu Yildiz was sentenced to 20 months in jail and lost her parental rights after exposing a video related to a weapons-smuggling scandal denied by the Turkish government, in what her lawyer said was “an act of revenge” by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.[284]

See also

References

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