Turkish premier crosses into Syria to visit Ottoman tomb
Davutoglu made the surprise visit to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman empire’s founder Osman I
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu slipped across the border into Syria on Sunday to visit a historic tomb that was relocated earlier this year away from militant-controlled territory.
Davutoglu, accompanied by his defense minister and army commanders, made the surprise visit to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman empire’s founder Osman I, his office announced.
The mausoleum now lies just 200 meters from the Turkish border inside Syrian territory, after Turkish soldiers in February staged an unprecedented incursion deep inside Syria to move the tomb from its previous location.
The government ordered the tomb -- considered sovereign Turkish territory -- to be moved due to security concerns as it was in an area controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, about 37 kilometers inside Syrian territory.
Images from Davutoglu’s visit show him paying his respects at the tomb, which now lies in the settlement of Eshme and is easily visible from Turkish territory, and embracing Turkish soldiers who are permanently stationed there.
“Mr Prime Minister has long had an intention to visit the tomb on the ground since it was relocated,” a government official told AFP.
“It was put into practice when there was such an opportunity.”
The relocation of the tomb sparked severe criticism from opposition parties which lambasted the operation as a retreat that meekly handed over the area to ISIS insurgents.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected the criticism, saying the move was motivated by concerns that the tomb and Turkish guards could have come under attack from extremists, and was not a retreat.
Before their withdrawal, Turkish troops blew up the building complex that housed the tomb so it could not be used or desecrated by militants.
The tomb of Suleyman Shah, who is said to have died in 1236, is considered Turkish territory under the 1921 Treaty of Ankara between the Turkish authorities and France, which then controlled French-mandated Syria.
The latest visit comes amid speculation that Turkey is preparing to intervene militarily in Syria, a claim rejected by Davutoglu.
Some opposition politicians claimed this week that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) might resort to military operations in Syria to boost its popularity ahead of a June 7 parliamentary election.
“No, there is no situation right now that requires Turkey’s involvement,” Davutoglu told Turkish media this weekend, labelling the claims as “empty words.”
Davutoglu continued his election rally on Sunday in the city of Sanliurfa in the southeast near the Syrian border after his visit to the tomb.
Turkey’s rescue of Suleyman Shah’s tomb: Retreat or victory?In a nine-hour operation called Operation Shah Euphrates, the Turkish army entered into Syria Middle East
ISIS advancing on Suleyman Shah tomb: TurkeySuleyman Shah tomb is sovereign exclave of Turkey situated in Aleppo Middle East
Report: Turkey military on alert for historic tomb in SyriaApproximately 25 Turkish soldiers on guard around the Tomb of Suleyman Shah were ordered to retaliate Middle East
Erdogan: Turkey's ancestors never committed genocideHistorians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks Middle East
Erdogan says he’s no sultan, but more like British QueenErdogan’s comments came after fresh criticism from the opposition that he would act like an “Ottoman sultan” Variety
Report: Erdogan invites Armenian leader to join Gallipoli commemorationThe Gallipoli campaign was one of the most famous battles of World War I when Ottoman troops Middle East
Lessons from the Ottoman Empire on accepting minoritiesThe AK Party government has emphasized time and again that they have no problems with the Israeli people World
Arab involvement in Crimean War ‘erased from history’The Ottoman Empire summoned Egyptian and Tunisian contingents against Russia Features
Traces of Ottoman rule in Algeria revealed by researcherResearcher compiles book on scarce Ottoman artifacts in the country Travel and Tourism
Erdogan defies unrest, vows to rebuild Ottoman barracksTurkey’s prime minister on Saturday remained defiant in the face of violent protests surrounding a government plan to redevelop Istanbul’s ... World News
‘Empire strikes back’: Turkish seculars oppose ‘Ottoman dress’ for hostessesTurkey’s proposed new more modest dress code for its flight attendants has been criticized by the country’s seculars with some Twitter ... News
Turkey and the pitfalls of the Ottoman revivalIt smelt of Ottoman, it tasted of Ottoman, and it certainly looked like Ottoman. During my recent visit to Istanbul, I could feel the growing sense of ... News
Turkeys PM slams popular TV series for tarnishing Ottoman historyA historical Turkish TV series has distorted Ottoman history, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reported as saying by a news agency on ... News