Turkey Says Syrian Forces Behind Border Town Bombings
Ankara – Turkey believes fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind two car bombings that killed 46 people in a Turkish border town where thousands of Syrian refugees live, officials said on Sunday. Authorities have arrested nine people, all Turkish citizens and including the alleged mastermind, after the bombings in Reyhanli on Saturday, deputy prime minister Besir Atalay told reporters.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said those involved were thought also to have stage an attack on the Syrian coastal town of Banias a week ago in which at least 62 people were killed. The car bombs increased fears that Syria’s civil war was dragging in neighboring states despite renewed diplomatic moves towards ending two years of fighting in which more than 70,000 people have been killed.
“The attack has nothing to do with the Syrian refugees in Turkey, it’s got everything to do with the Syrian regime,” Davutoglu said in an interview on TRT television. “We should be careful against ethnic provocations in Turkey and Lebanon after the Banias massacre,” he said. Syrian Information Minister Omran Zubi denied any Syrian involvement and rejected what he called “unfounded accusations”.
The conflict has inflamed a confrontation between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in the Middle East, with Shi’ite Iran supporting Assad, and Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia backing the rebels. Banias is a Sunni pocket in the midst of a large Alawite enclave on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Activists in the area accuse militias loyal to Assad, an Alawite, of ethnic attacks. (Reuters)