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Turkish tomb in Syria becomes flashpoint for conflict

The Abu Basil family, deported from Turkey, became best of friends with Turkish soldiers guarding the Tomb of Suleiman Shah.

“When I was a child, Turkish soldiers guarding the Tomb of Suleiman Shah in the foothills of Jabel Fortress used to carry their water from the Euphrates River on donkey back to their base. They were putting the water in tin cans without lids. We used to throw pebbles at the donkeys. Startled, they jumped about and spilled their water and we laughed. The soldiers did not react too much. One day when we were throwing pebbles with three of my cousins, my father caught us. I was punished by two days' confinement to the house.”

This is a flashback of Saad Abdunnur abu Basil’s childhood around the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, the only sovereign Turkish territory inside Syria. The tomb, put under Turkish custody as stipulated by the 1921 Treaty of Ankara with the French, is on the agenda as a potential pretext for Turkey to mount a cross-border operation into Syria. The case of the video recording of a threat by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS] was circulated on the Internet. The Internet message said: “We are giving you three days [to evacuate] the soldiers in this tomb which is on the Islamic land of Aleppo. Or, we will raze the tomb.”

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