ISIS advancing on Suleyman Shah tomb: Turkey

Suleyman Shah tomb is sovereign exclave of Turkey situated in Aleppo

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Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are advancing on Suleyman Shah tomb, a sovereign exclave of Turkey situated in Syria’s Aleppo that is being guarded by Turkish soldiers, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on Tuesday.

In April Turkey had sent soldiers to guard Suleyman Shah (1178-1227), the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire Osman I, Trend reports.

Turkey claims the sovereignty of the tomb, located 30km from the Turkish-Syrian border on the bank of River Euphrates, under a 1921 agreement signed with France, when Syrian was under the French rule.

Turkey has said it would defend the mausoleum.

Deputy Prime Minister Arinc said a parliamentary mandate for military action in Iraq and Syria will cover all possible threats.

Turkey, a NATO member with long borders with both countries, has so far declined to take a frontline role, fearful partly that the military action will strengthen Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and bolster Kurdish militants allied to Kurds in Turkey who have fought for three decades for greater autonomy.

It also argues that air strikes alone will do little to address long-term instability on its 1,200 km southern frontier.

But its rhetoric has hardened since 46 Turkish hostages, whose captivity at the hands of Islamic State militants made it wary of taking action, were released this month.

Parliament will vote on Thursday on a government proposal, expected to be submitted on Tuesday, to authorise military action in Iraq and Syria. That will extend a mandate initially intended to allow Turkey to strike Kurdish militants in northern Iraq and defend itself against any threat from Assad's forces.

“We need to show solidarity. We cannot remain outside this campaign,” President Tayyip Erdogan told a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Istanbul on Sunday, vowing Turkey's commitment to the fight against Islamic State but insisting that U.S.-led air strikes alone were not enough.

“That will not be sufficient. There is a ground dimension to it,” he said, arguing that groups fighting Islamic State, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq and the Iraqi army, needed to be given more support.

Islamic State has destroyed several shrines and tombs sacred to Shi'ites and other sects, stirring fears in Turkey that their next target might be Suleyman Shah. Turkey has said it will defend the mausoleum.

[With Reuters]

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