2015 Suruç bombing

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2015 Suruç bombing
Part of Turkish involvement in
the Syrian Civil War
2015 Suruc bombing in Turkey.jpg
Forensic experts at the crime scene
after the explosion
Location Suruç, Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey
Coordinates 36°58′50″N38°25′32″E / 36.98056°N 38.42556°E / 36.98056; 38.42556 Coordinates: 36°58′50″N38°25′32″E / 36.98056°N 38.42556°E / 36.98056; 38.42556
Date20 July 2015 (2015-07-20)
12:00 (EEST)
Attack type
Suicide bombing, mass murder
Deaths34 (including suicide bomber) [1] [2]
Non-fatal injuries
104 [3]
Suspected perpetrators
Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz, [4] [5] allegedly recruited by ISIL [6] (see also section Perpetrators)

The 2015 Suruç bombing took place in the Suruç district of Şanlıurfa Province in Turkey at approximately 12:00 local time on 20 July 2015, outside the Amara Culture Centre. [7] 33 people were killed [8] and 104 were reported injured. [3] [9] [10] [11] Most victims were members of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Youth Wing and the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF), university-ages students who were giving a press statement on their planned trip to reconstruct the Syrian border town of Kobanî. [12] [13]

Suruç Place in Şanlıurfa, Turkey

Suruç is a rural district and city of Şanlıurfa Province of Turkey, on a plain near the Syrian border 46 kilometres (29 mi) south-west of the city of Urfa.

Şanlıurfa Province Province of Turkey in Southeastern Anatolia

Şanlıurfa Province or simply Urfa Province is a province in southeastern Turkey. The city of Şanlıurfa is the capital of the province which bears its name. The population is 1,845,667 (2014).

Turkey Republic in Western Asia

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Istanbul is the largest city, but more central Ankara is the capital. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.

Contents

Kobanî, which is approximately 10 km from Suruç, was until January under siege by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces. [14] More than 300 members of the SGDF had travelled from İstanbul to Suruç to participate in three to four days of rebuilding work in Kobanî, and had been staying at Amara Cultural Centre while preparing to cross the border. [15] The explosion, which was caught on camera, was identified as being caused by a cluster bomb [ dubious ] detonated during what was perceived to be a suicide attack.[ citation needed ]

Siege of Kobanî battle in the Syrian Civil War

The Siege of Kobanî was launched by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants on 13 September 2014, in order to capture the Kobanî Canton and its main city of Kobanî in northern Syria, in the de facto autonomous region of Rojava.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Salafi jihadist terrorist and militant group

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, officially as the Islamic State (IS) and by its Arabic language acronym Daesh, is a Salafi jihadist militant group and former unrecognised proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIL gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.

Cluster munition munition containing multiple submunitions meant to disperse effects of the munitions

A cluster munition is a form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller submunitions. Commonly, this is a cluster bomb that ejects explosive bomblets that are designed to kill personnel and destroy vehicles. Other cluster munitions are designed to destroy runways or electric power transmission lines, disperse chemical or biological weapons, or to scatter land mines. Some submunition-based weapons can disperse non-munitions, such as leaflets.

The next day, ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) claimed responsibility for the attack. [16] ISIL had allegedly made the decision to pursue more active operations in Turkey just days before the attack. [17] [18] The attacker, Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz (20), an ethnic Kurd from Adıyaman, reportedly had links to Islamic State militants. [4]

Adıyaman Municipality in Turkey

Adıyaman is a city in southeastern Turkey, capital of the Adıyaman Province. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Turkey. The population rose from 100,045 (1990) to 202,735 in 2010. The city has a significant Kurdish population.

This was possibly the first planned attack by ISIL on Turkish soil, although previous incidents such as the 2013 Reyhanlı bombings, the 2015 Istanbul suicide bombing, and the 2015 Diyarbakır rally bombings have also been blamed by some on ISIL. The bombing resulted in a new escalation between Turkey and ISIL, with Turkish soldiers and ISIL militants directly engaging in the border town of Kilis on 24 July 2015. This led to Turkey launching Operation Martyr Yalçın, a series of airstrikes against mostly Kurdish militant positions in Northern Iraq and Syria. Large-scale operations against PKK, but including some ISIL targets, began on 24 July; however, most arrests were of PKK members. [19] The bombing was met with international condemnation by a variety of organizations, as well as promises by the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) to tighten the Turkish-Syrian border following the attack. [20] The opposition criticised the government for not securing the border beforehand, while the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) also came under scrutiny for endorsing the crossing of the victims past the border despite significant threats from ISIL. [21] [22]

The Reyhanlı bombings took place on 11 May 2013, when two car bombs exploded in the Turkish town of Reyhanlı, a town of 64,000 people, 5 km from the Syrian border and the busiest land border post with Syria, in Hatay Province, Turkey. At least 51 people were killed and 140 injured in the attack.

On 6 January 2015, Diana Ramazova from Dagestan detonated a bomb vest at a police station in Istanbul's central Sultanahmet district, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The attack killed Ramazova and injured two police officers, one of whom later succumbed to his wounds. Ramazova was the pregnant widow of a Norwegian-Chechen ISIS fighter in Syria who had been killed in December 2014.

The 2015 Diyarbakır Rally bombings occurred on 5 June 2015 in Diyarbakır, Turkey during an electoral rally of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) at 17:55 local time. The bombing took place two days before the June 2015 general election and killed 5 supporters, injuring over 100.

Background

The district of Suruç is located on the Syrian-Turkish border in the Province of Şanlıurfa, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from the Syrian town of Kobanî. The populations of both Suruç and Kobanî are mostly Kurds, with the cultural ties between the two having resulted in deadly riots in south-eastern Turkey in October 2014 when Kobanî was under siege by Islamic State militants. The riots had mainly protested the Turkish government's lack of intervention in Kobanî against ISIL. [23] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed he was not prepared to launch operations against ISIL unless it was also against the forces of Bashar Al Assad. [24] Furthermore, allegations of covert funding and the arming of ISIL by the Turkish government, which came under particular scrutiny following the 2014 MİT lorries scandal, also caused heavy controversy. [25] [26]

Kobanî City and nahiyah in Aleppo, Syria

Kobanî, officially Ayn al-Arab, is a city in the Aleppo Governorate in northern Syria, lying immediately south of the border with Turkey. As a consequence of the Syrian Civil War, the city has been under control of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia since 2012. In 2014, it was declared to be the administrative center of the Kobanî Canton of the de facto autonomous Rojava, which later became the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.

2014 Kurdish protests in Turkey refer to large-scale protests by Kurds in Turkey in autumn 2014, as a spillover of the crisis in Kobanî. Large pro-Kobanî demonstrations unfolded in Turkey, and quickly descended into violence between protesters and the Turkish police. Several military incidents between Turkish forces and PKK militants in south-eastern Turkey, resulting in several mortal casualties, contributed to the escalation. Protests then spread to various cities in Turkey. Protesters were met with tear gas and water cannons, and initially 12 people were killed. A total of 31 people were killed in subsequent protesting up to 14 October.

Politics of Turkey

The politics of Turkey takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Turkey is the head of government and the head of state who holds executive powers to issue executive decrees, appoint judges and heads of state institutions.

The Siege of Kobanî (2014–15)

Kobanî was retaken from ISIL forces in late January 2015, with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) taking full control of the city. ISIL vowed to return, committing a series of massacres in the city in June 2015. The Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF) of Turkey requested permission to cross the border and participate in the reconstruction of the war-torn city. [27]

Peoples Protection Units mainly-Kurdish militia in Syria

The People's Protection Units or People's Defense Units is a mainly-Kurdish militia in Syria and the primary component of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria's Syrian Democratic Forces. The YPG is mostly ethnically Kurdish, and also includes Arabs, foreign volunteers, and is closely allied to the Syriac Military Council, a militia of Assyrians.

Kobanî massacre

The Kobanî massacre was a combination of suicide missions and attacks on Kurdish civilians by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the Kurdish-held city of Kobanî, beginning on Thursday, 25 June, and culminating on Friday, 26 June 2015. The attacks continued into 28 June, with the last remaining ISIL militant being killed on the following day. The attacks resulted in 223–233 civilians dead, as well as 35–37 Kurdish militiamen and at least 79 ISIL assailants. It was the second-largest massacre committed by ISIL since it declared a caliphate in June 2014.

Turkish invasion threats

During late June and early July 2015, the Turkish and Jordanian governments made threats to invade Syria [28] [29] and set up buffer zones. Turkey also agreed to let the United States of America use Turkish bases for drone strikes against ISIL. [30]

Explosion

Perceived targets

The bombing appeared to target members of the Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF), the Youth Wing of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), of which 300 members had travelled to Suruç from İstanbul in order to cross the border into Kobanî to take part in reconstruction projects there. The members were staying at the Amara Culture Centre and were giving a press statement on the reconstruction of Kobanî when the bombings took place. [31] Shortly after the bombing in Suruç, there was an explosion at an old mortar warehouse in Kobanî itself. [32]

Bombing

A survivor present at the press statement when the bombing took place, theatre actor Murat Akdağ, claimed that the bomb exploded in the middle of the group listening to the statement being made. [33] Wounds on casualties taken to hospital showed evidence of burns and cluster bomb [ dubious ] fragments. [34] A spokesperson for the municipality of Suruç added that there was the potential for a second bombing, asking individuals close to the Amara Cultural Centre to evacuate the area. [35] Initial reports identified an 18-year-old female suicide bomber as the perpetrator, although the government later formally identified a male disguised as a woman as the detonator of the bomb. The Turkish government began investigating domestic and international affiliations of the suspect shortly after identification. [36]

Perpetrators

On 21 July, website euronews reported that ISIL had claimed the attack. [16]

On 22 July, some Turkish media reports indicated the suspected perpetrator, Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz, whose ID card was found at the scene, was a 20-year-old Turkish Kurd from Adıyaman who had been recruited by ISIL six months earlier. [6] [4] [37] [38]

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) however named a 20-year-old woman, whom the police had recently released from custody, as perpetrator. [6]

Another media report pointed at Dokumacılar, an ISIL-linked terrorist group. [39]

Reactions

Domestic reactions

People killed by a suicide attack in Suruc Merasima Oxirkirina Qurbaniyen Erisa Pirsuse 16.jpg
People killed by a suicide attack in Suruç

The Prime Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoğlu, formed a crisis meeting and sent Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, Interior Minister Sebahattin Öztürk and Minister of Labour and Social Security Faruk Çelik to Suruç to follow developments. [40] [41] Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan condemned the bombing, stating on social media that Turkey would never yield to such terrorist attacks. [42]

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was in Northern Cyprus at the time of the bombing. [43] In a statement, he condemned the attack and offered condolences to the relatives of the victims. [44] He further claimed that government ministers would continue their investigations. [45] Former President Abdullah Gül also condemned the attack and offered condolences. [46]

The Governor of Şanlıurfa, İzzettin Küçük, confirmed that the explosion was a result of a suicide bombing, but caused controversy when it emerged that he had previously claimed that there was no threat from ISIL to Şanlıurfa before the bombing. [47]

The Ministry of the Interior warned soon after the bombing occurred that casualties were likely to rise, adding that the perpetrators would be caught and brought to justice as soon as possible. [48]

The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) chairman Selahattin Demirtaş claimed that the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) were responsible for the attack, claiming the bombing could not have taken place without assistance from the state. [49] The HDP's parliamentary group leader Pervin Buldan released a statement claiming that the HDP would treat the attacks as a suicide bombing perpetrated by ISIL until more reliable information is made available. HDP Member of Parliament Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat claimed that the target of the attack was the Turkish Republic itself. [50] HDP Adana Member of Parliament Meral Danış Beştaş called the attack a 'massacre' and said the HDP Central Executive Committee would meet to discuss the bombing. [51]

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) also sent a delegation to Suruç formed of ten MPs led by CHP Deputy Leader Sezgin Tanrıkulu. [52] Another CHP Deputy Leader, Gürsel Tekin, stated that his party had consistently warned the government that the border between Syria and Turkey had been left undefended, while Tanrıkulu criticised the AKP for being responsible for Turkey's situation. [53]

The Kurdish con-federalist Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) held the AKP responsible, accusing the AKP of funding ISIL, thus contributing to its terrorist attacks and efforts. [54] The PKK blamed the Turkish government for the attack, saying the government is conspiring with ISIL. [55] This anger of the PKK contributed to PKK revenge attacks (see section Aftermath).

International reactions

Aftermath

Demostrations

Demonstrations were held in several provinces of Turkey to protest the attack. During a protest attended by approximately 1,000 people in Mersin two protestors were shot and lightly wounded by an unknown perpetrator with a hunting rifle. [66]

Ceylanpınar's double assassination

Two days after the bombing in Suruç two police officers were found dead in the same building in the district of Ceylanpınar, which is also in Şanlıurfa Province. [67] At least one of the officers was identified as working for an anti-terrorism task force. [68] The PKK claimed responsibility for the attack, as a revenge act for the events in Suruç. [69] Following a statement from the Şanlıurfa Governor İzzettin Küçük, a ban on press coverage came into effect and Twitter was blocked while sensitive content was removed from the site. [70] 9 people were anonymously denounced and accused of the assassinations. As of April 16 2019, the 9 accuses acquittal is uphelp by the Higher Court of Turkey. [71] The assassinations is now commented as the casus belli used to drop the 2013-2015 Solution process, revive nationalist fervor and undo the June 2015 Turkey elections via the November 2015 Turkey elections. [71]

Anti-PKK offensives

In raids across the country, nearly 600 terror suspects were arrested including alleged members of ISIS. [72] However the majority of those arrested were members of non-Islamist groups such as the PKK, Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front and other left-wing groups. [73]

On the following Friday, 24 July, Turkey for the first time carried out airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria near the Turkish border, without entering Syrian airspace. However, the same day Turkey also began airstrikes against PKK camps in northern Iraq, despite the fact the PKK is fighting against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. [74] [75]

On the Saturday following the airstrikes the president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani, called Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. He urged Turkey to halt its airstrikes against the PKK over their territory and resolve their problem through negotiations. [76]

See also

Related Research Articles

Socialist Party of the Oppressed

Socialist Party of the Oppressed is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the Republic of Turkey. It defines itself as "a militant revolutionary socialist party fighting for a workers'-labourers' federative republic in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan."

Peoples Democratic Party (Turkey) pro-minority political party in Turkey

The Peoples' Democratic Party, or Democratic Party of the Peoples, is a pro-minority political party in Turkey. Generally left-wing, the party places a strong emphasis on participatory democracy, radical democracy, feminism, minority rights, youth rights and egalitarianism. It is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and consultative member of the Socialist International.

Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War

Turkey, which had had a relatively friendly relationship with Syria over the decade prior to the start of the civil unrest in Syria in the spring of 2011, condemned the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad over the violent crackdown on protests in 2011 and later that year joined a number of other countries demanding his resignation. In the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, Turkey trained defectors of the Syrian Army on its territory, and in July 2011, a group of them announced the birth of the Free Syrian Army, under the supervision of Turkish intelligence. In October 2011, Turkey began sheltering the Free Syrian Army, offering the group a safe zone and a base of operations. Together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey has also provided the rebels with arms and other military equipment. Tensions between Syria and Turkey significantly worsened after Syrian forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet in June 2012, and border clashes erupted in October 2012. On 24 August 2016, the Turkish armed forces began a declared direct military intervention into Syria pursuing as targets both ISIL and the Kurdish-aligned forces in Syria.

Turkey–ISIL conflict

The Turkey–ISIL conflict is an ongoing series of attacks and clashes between Turkey and the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as part of the spillover of the Syrian Civil War.

Dokumacılar terrorist organisation linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The Dokumacılar was a Turkish organisation linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that specifically targeted the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) that were fighting against ISIL in the Syrian Civil War. The organisation, thought to have been formed of around 60 Turkish militants who joined ISIL, was linked to both the 2015 Diyarbakır rally bombings that killed 4 people and the 2015 Suruç bombing that killed 32 people.

2015 police raids in Turkey

The 2015 police raids in Turkey were a series of police raids conducted by the General Directorate of Security in 16 different Provinces of Turkey. The operations were largely seen as a response to the suicide bombing in Suruç on 20 July 2015 that killed 32 people, as well as a series of attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on the police and military positions in Adıyaman and Ceylanpınar.

Operation Martyr Yalçın was a military operation conducted by the Turkish Air Force against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Syria, and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) positions in Northern Iraq, on 24 and 25 July 2015.

The 2015 NATO emergency meeting was an emergency convention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation called by Turkey, in accordance to Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty. It is the fifth such meeting called in the organisation's 66-year history. The meeting was held in Brussels, Belgium on 28 July 2015 and was attended by ambassadors of all NATO's member states.

Kurdish–Turkish conflict (2015–present) latest phase of the conflict which started after the escalation in 2015

In late July 2015, the third phase of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict between various Kurdish insurgent groups and the Turkish government erupted following a failed two and a half year-long peace process, aimed at resolving the long-running conflict.

2015 Ankara bombings

On 10 October 2015 at 10:04 local time (EEST) in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, two bombs were detonated outside Ankara Central railway station. With a death toll of 109 civilians, the attack surpassed the 2013 Reyhanlı bombings as the deadliest terror attack in modern Turkish history. Another 500 people were injured. Censorship monitoring group Turkey Blocks identified nationwide slowing of social media services in the aftermath of the blasts, described by rights group Human Rights Watch as an "extrajudicial" measure to restrict independent media coverage of the incident.

Controversies during the Turkish general election of November 2015 mainly centred on the escalating violence in the south-east and the rise in domestic terrorist attacks linked to both the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). International concerns also grew over an increase in media censorship, with the government being accused of specifically targeting news outlets known to be close to the Gülen Movement such as Kanaltürk and Bugün TV. Safety concerns due to the escalating conflict resulted in the government proposing to merge ballot boxes in affected areas and to transport them to safer locations, though the opposition criticised the move as an attempt to decrease the votes of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which polled strongly in the June 2015 general election.

February 2016 Ankara bombing

On 17 February 2016, in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, at least 30 people died and 60 were injured in a bombing. According to Turkish authorities, the attack targeted a convoy of shuttles carrying both civilian and military personnel working at the military headquarters during the evening rush hour as the vehicles were stopped at traffic lights at an intersection with İsmet İnönü Boulevard close to Kızılay neighborhood. Several ministries, the headquarters of the army and the Turkish Parliament are located in the neighbourhood where the attack occurred. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) took responsibility for the attack and said they targeted security forces. Censorship monitoring organization Turkey Blocks reported nationwide internet restrictions beginning approximately one hour after the blast pursuant to an administrative order.

March 2016 Istanbul bombing suicide bombing on 19 March 2016

On 19 March 2016, a suicide bombing took place in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district in front of the district governor's office. The attack occurred at 10:55 (EET) at the intersection of Balo Street with İstiklal Avenue, a central shopping street. The attack caused at least five deaths, including that of the perpetrator. Thirty-six people were injured, including seven whose injuries were severe. Among those injured were twelve foreign tourists. Among those killed, two were of dual Israel-US nationality. On 22 March, the Turkish interior minister said that the bomber had links with ISIL.

August 2016 Gaziantep bombing suicide bombing at Gaziantep, Turkey on 20 August 2016

On 20 August 2016, a suicide bomber targeted a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep, Turkey. 57 people were killed and 66 injured in the attack, 14 critically.

December 2016 Istanbul bombings Suicide bombing

On the evening of 10 December 2016, two explosions caused by a car bombing and suicide bombing in Istanbul's Beşiktaş municipality killed 48 people and injured 166 others. 36 of those killed were police officers, 8 were civilians and one remains unidentified. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) assumed responsibility, claiming that their members killed more than 100 police officers.

The Ceylanpınar incidents were a series of attacks in the area of Ceylanpınar, Turkey, on Turkish polices. These attacks were used by the Erdogan goverment as Casus belli to drop the 2013-2015 Solution process, resume war on PKK militants. As Erdogan recently lost the June 2015 Turkish general election, and soon after announced the anticipated November 2015 Turkish general election, analysts comment the Ceylanpınar incidents and return to war have been used to increase nationalist fervor and favor the ruling party to take back control over the Turkish parliament.

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