Turkey has started building a new tomb of Suleyman Shah after the successful evacuation of the historical Turkish figure’s remains from 37km inside Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials announced the new location of the tomb, around 200 metres away from the Turkish border, in a statement on Sunday.
The new location, where construction vehicles have started working, is in the Kurdish-controlled territory and is clearly visible from the Turkish side of the border.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had repeatedly said that Turkey would retaliate against any attack on the tomb.
The Prime Minister’s office, in an official statement, said on Sunday that 100,000 square metres of land inside Syrian territory belonged to Turkey in line with international agreements, adding that both the former and new location of tomb still belonged to Turkey.
The tomb, on a site within Syria that Ankara considers sovereign territory as agreed in a 1921 treaty, a 1956 protocol and a 2003 agreement, was relocated close to the Turkish border, while Suleyman Shah’s remains were taken to Turkey.
“The new location of the tomb, against the backdrop of this legitimacy [the international documents], is again in the Syrian side of the border. The area where [the] tomb is going to be located is Turkish land although it is outside our borders,” the statement said.
A Turkish foreign ministry official told Al Jazeera that the evacuation was necessary as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group and Kurdish fighters have been clashing in the region.
“There was a great chance that our troops protecting the tomb would be stuck in crossfire,” the official said.
Davutoglu told a press conference on Sunday that nearly 600 soldiers, including special forces commandos, took part in the mission on Saturday night.
The Syrian government said that Turkey informed Syria ahead of the major overnight military incursion but did not await Syrian agreement to the action.
Syrian state media described the incursion as “flagrant aggression”.
“Turkey goes beyond supporting ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist gangs to launch a blatant aggression on Syrian territory,” state-run SANA news said, referring to the alternate name of ISIL.