Blast hits Turkish town Suruç near Syria border
A suspected Islamic State suicide bomber killed 32 people Monday 20th of July in an attack on a Turkish cultural centre where activists had gathered to prepare for an aid mission in the nearby Syrian town of Kobane. Turkish authorities have identified a suspect in the apparent suicide bombing that killed 32 people in Suruç near the Syrian border.
The blast ripped through the centre in Suruç — a town just across the border from Kobane, which was itself later hit by a suicide car bombing — blowing out the windows and starting a fire, witnesses said. Most of the dead were university students from a socialist movement who were planning to enter Syria to help rebuild Kobane, which was occupied by Islamic State for months before being recaptured by Kurdish forces in January. In addition to those killed, around 100 other people were wounded by the blast, some badly injured.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to northern Cyprus, condemned the attack as an «act of terror». «On behalf of my people, I curse and condemn the perpetrators of this brutality,» he said. «Terror must be condemned no matter where it comes from.» But where on earth does he (Turkey’s democratic destroyer) get the idea of talking like: «On behalf of my people..», from? NOT from his sincerity obviously! He who have been one of the masterminds of narrowing Turkish democracy, not widening it. And he who together with the political elite have been «laid back» to say at least, in doing as good as nothing to combat IS at all. According to some sources , on the contrary: Turkish Kurds have long been angry at what they perceive as Turkey’s failure to act against IS inside the country and on Turkey’s borders, with many believing that Ankara directly supports the Islamist militants against Kurdish fighters. And as a tool to fight down president Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vehemently denied suggestions that Turkey and the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party had encouraged IS: “Turkey and AK party governments have never had any direct or indirect connection with any terrorist organisation and never tolerated any terrorist group,” he said. Who believes that? Turkish authorities have carried out a series of raids in recent weeks to arrest Islamic State suspects. They have also blocked more than half a dozen Islamist news websites. But these measures have been put in place just recently and NOT before!
Monday’s bombing was the deadliest such attack on Turkish soil since twin bombs killed at least 50 people in the border town of Reyhanlı in 2013. This would be the first such attack by IS or Daesh fighters (Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS) against Turkey, a regional military power and NATO member. As a response to this tragedy thousands of mourners and protesters in many Turkish cities shouted anti-IS slogans, and slogans critical of the government of President Erdoğan.
Alp Altinors from the pro-Kurdish HDP party said the group of around 300 activists who gathered in Suruç from across the country were from the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations and that most were students. «They were planning to build parks in Kobane, hand out toys for children and paint school walls,» he told AFP.
Social media images showed the group relaxing over breakfast in the garden a few hours before the noon blast. Photographs circulated on social media showed bodies strewn in the garden of the cultural centre. The youth organisation published a photograph just before the blast showing its members gathered at a table in the garden.
A video circulated by the private Dogan news agency showed a spokesman for the activists saying into a microphone: «We, the youth, are here. We have defended Kobane together and now we are setting out to rebuild it together.»
In the memory of the dead young socialists
Twenty-five coffins were laid out in the courtyard of a mosque in the south-eastern city of Gaziantep on Tuesday following autopsies.
The coffins were wrapped in red shrouds with the name of each victim simply written in black block capitals on a white piece of paper fastened to each coffin.
The coffins were laid out in a line and relatives of the young victims rested their heads on the tops of the coffins in a final embrace, wailing in grief. One woman cried violently as she grasped the coffin of her son with her hands. Others simply buried their faces into the top of the coffins. It rips my heart into pieces when seeing this.
Following the autopsy and ceremony, the bodies were taken for burial in the hometowns of the victims, who came from across Turkey, including the city of Van in the east, Kayseri in central Turkey, Istanbul and Suruç itself.
This terrible event also reminds me of the terror deed made by the Norwegian right wing extremist four years ago. The cowardly attack claimed a total of 77 lives on 22nd of July 2011. Extremists are the same all over, regardless where from, what culture or belief. One other thing many of them have in common: Support by states if they regard them as useful enough for their own interests. And we in the West are NO exception in this matter either!
Turkey attack spillover of IS war on Kurds says experts
(Article taken from yourmiddleeast.com)
A deadly suicide bombing in southern Turkey appears to be part of the Islamic State group’s war against the Kurds, and shows the country’s growing vulnerability to the conflict in neighbouring Syria, analysts say.
The attack on Monday on a gathering of pro-Kurdish activists in Suruc along the Turkish-Syrian border, which killed at least 32 people, bore the hallmarks of the Sunni extremist organisation.
«Thus far, even without an IS claim of responsibility, the group seems the most likely perpetrator,» said Charles Lister, an analyst at the Brookings Doha Centre.
«The attack method, the specific target and the political implications of the attack all point towards an IS motive, for now.»
Turkey was quick to blame IS for the bombing of the cultural centre — the first time it has directly accused the group of carrying out an act of terror on Turkish soil.
The young victims were preparing for an aid mission to the devastated Syrian town of Kobane, which became a symbol of resistance against the jihadists, who were driven out by Kurdish forces in January.
Since then, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have gradually seized territory from IS in northern Syria with support from US-led air strikes.
Their advances have prompted a counter offensive, with IS attacking Kobane as well as the cities of Hasakeh and Qamishli in the past month alone.
– «Uptick in violence» –
Aaron Stein, a non-resident fellow at Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council, described Monday’s attack as a «spillover of the Kurdish-IS fight» in Syria.
Rather than targeting Turkey, Stein said the Suruc bombing appeared to be «more of an attack on Kurdish sympathisers of Kobane».
He likened the blast to an attack on a rally organised by Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party in Diyarbakir, which killed four people in June.
«We have seen an uptick in violence against Kurds in Turkey,» he told AFP.
Analysts noted that the attack also follows a recent campaign in which Turkish security forces have arrested dozens of IS militants and sympathisers in raids across the country.
It follows years of criticism of Ankara for allegedly turning a blind eye to the growing power of IS, which has used crossings along Turkey’s long border with Syria as a route to bring in foreign fighters and weapons.
«There have been a number of arrests of IS sympathisers, and in general it seems like there has been a real but late crackdown on IS in Turkey,» said Max Abrahms, a terrorism expert and professor at Northeastern University.
«The fact that there would then be presumably an IS attack against Turkey isn’t at all surprising.»
– Risk of more attacks –
Turkey’s main aim in the Syria conflict has been the ousting of President Bashar al-Assad and containment of pro-Kurdish groups.
Despite its tense relations with Syria’s Kurds, the Turkish government described the Suruc bombing as an attack against the nation.
Ankara accuses Syria’s Kurdish forces of ties to Turkey’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which fought a 31-year insurgency and is listed as a «terrorist group» by the government.
It has been alarmed by the growing power of Syria’s Kurdish fighters, and unimpressed by their successes against IS.
Analysts said the attack could strengthen Turkey’s resolve to take on IS inside its war-torn neighbour, where a US-led coalition has been carrying out air raids against the jihadists since September.
«It will only encourage Turkey to get more involved in the fight against IS… including the greater possibility of ground forces» in Syria, Abrahms said.
«This is really the only way in which I can see Turkey coming into line in terms of being a real supporter of this anti-IS coalition, if Turkey itself becomes subject to attack.»
Lister said there was a danger of more attacks on Turkish soil.
«In some respects, it’s surprising we haven’t seen more of this kind of spillover already,» he said.
«But the real concern now is that this attack could spell the start of more frequent bombings and other such incidents immediately across the Syrian border.»
– Turkey’s double standard –
The attack in Suruc was followed closely afterwards by a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint in Kobane, which killed two members of the Kurdish security forces, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Kobane has been a symbol of resistance against the jihadists since IS fighters were driven out by Syrian Kurdish forces backed by US-led air strikes.
Turkey’s Kurds were frustrated at the time at Ankara’s refusal to intervene to rout the insurgents, who have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq over the past year.
Ankara’s critics accused it of tolerating or even aiding IS, as a useful ally against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Erdogan wants ousted — allegations vehemently rejected by Ankara.
In recent weeks, Turkish authorities have stepped up their actions against the jihadists, arresting dozens of suspected IS militants and sympathisers.
«It’s now obvious that the Turkish government has upgraded the threat posed by ISIS to among the top ones it is facing,» a Western diplomat told AFP last week.
Turkey has also boosted its border defences, stationing tanks and anti-aircraft missiles along its frontier with Syria as well as bolstering troop numbers.
The build-up has fed speculation that the government is planning an intervention to push the jihadists back from the border and halt the advance of Kurdish forces who have made gains in the area.
The government has however ruled out any immediate action in Syria.
– Reluctant coalition member –
Ankara categorises IS as a terrorist group but has been a reluctant member of the US-led anti-IS coalition, refusing to give its NATO ally the use of Incirlik air base in the south for raids on the jihadists.
The Islamists made a surprise raid on Kobane last month, five months after being driven out of the town.
The nearby town of Suruc, once a centre of silk-making, is home to one of the biggest refugee camps in Turkey housing Syrians who have fled their country’s bloody four-year conflict.
The camp shelters about 35,000 refugees out of a total of more than 1.8 million refugees taken in by Turkey since 2011.