40 People Dead in Turkey Bombings Near Syrian Border, Interior Minister Assures Syria Involvement

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

At least 41 people were killed and 100 injured Saturday when two explosive-laden cars blew up in a small Turkish town near the Syrian border, as Ankara swiftly pointed the finger at Syria.

In the wake of the bombing, the deadliest attack in Turkey since the beginning of the conflict in neighboring Syria, Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Guler revealed to national TRT television that the people and the organization who carried out this attack have been identified.

"We have established that they are linked to groups supporting the Syrian regime and its intelligence services," he said.

Earlier, the deputy prime minister suggested President Bashar Assad's government may have had a hand in the blast.

"With their secret services and armed groups, they are certainly one of the usual suspects to instigate and carry out such an outrageous plot," Bulent Arinc told Turkish NTV television.

Stressing that an investigation had only just begun, Arinc recalled that Turkish authorities already held Syrian secret services responsible for a similar attack that killed 17 in February.

The bombings in the town of Reyhanli, just a few kilometers from the main border crossing into Syria, claimed 41 lives and left 100 injured, 29 seriously, according to Besir Atalay, also deputy prime minister.

Rescuers were hunting for possible survivors buried underneath the rubble of buildings destroyed by the blasts.

Over a dozen ambulances and several air ambulances rushed to the scene to tend to the victims, NTV television said, adding that the town hall had suffered major damage.

A number of cars were also completely wrecked in the attacks which caused a power cut in the area around Reyhanli, according to local media.

Interior Minister Muammer Guler said the regional governor had been sent to the town "to put the necessary security measures in place" following the attack.

The attack sowed panic among residents in Reyhanli, a town of about 60,000 people, leading to tensions between youths and Syrian refugees living locally and forcing police to fire into the air to disperse the crowd.

Later on Saturday, a third blast occurred nearby but this turned out to be an exploding fuel tank, unrelated to the attacks, Guler said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, on a visit to Berlin, said it was "not a coincidence" that these bombings occurred as international diplomatic efforts to solve the Syrian crisis were intensifying.

"It is not a coincidence that this should happen in a period where there is an acceleration of efforts on Syria in the whole world," he told reporters.

It was too early however to make a clear judgement about the attack, he warned.

The United States and Russia, one of the few remaining supporters of Assad's regime, pledged this week to relaunch efforts to solve the conflict, which the United Nations estimates has killed 70,000 people since March 2011.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon visit Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin, officials said earlier Saturday, amid a flurry of diplomatic activity.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who earlier this month branded Assad a "butcher" who must be held to account for the deaths of thousands of his people, is due to meet Obama in Washington on Thursday.

French President Francois Hollande said that Paris condemned the attacks "in the strongest possible terms" while his British counterpart William Hague said the bombings were "appalling" and added that London would "stand with the people of Turkey".

Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition said the attacks were designed to drive a wedge between Turks and Syrians.

"The Coalition sees these heinous terrorist acts as an attempt to take revenge on the Turkish people and punish them for their honorable support of the Syrian people (...)"

The bombings were "a desperate and failed attempt to sow discord", the opposition said in a statement.

Reyhanli lies in southern Turkey near the Cilvegozu crossing opposite Syria's rebel-controlled Bab al-Hawa border post, the busiest crossing between the two countries.

The border area has witnessed a number of deadly attacks as the conflict in Syria spills over into Turkey, whose government was once an ally of President Assad but has become one of its harshest critics.

In February, a car bomb attack at Cilvegozu which Turkey blamed on Syrian intelligence agents killed 17 people and wounded 30.

Earlier this month, one police officer was killed and six other people wounded when Syrians trying to cross into Turkey opened fire in a border buffer zone.

Saturday's attack came as Turkey ramps up its rhetoric against Assad, with Erdogan accusing the regime in Damascus of deploying chemical weapons, crossing a "red line" set by U.S. President Barack Obama.

"It is clear the regime has used chemical weapons and missiles," Erdogan told NBC News on Thursday, without elaborating but calling for the United States to take more action against Syria.

Comments 17
Thumb benzona 11 May 2013, 15:01

Hezb ebola is everywhere!

Thumb Chupachups 11 May 2013, 15:24

benzona, ur wasting that benzin man, u could sell it to USA!
And as a token of their appreciation they will give u democracy

nice GIF btw

Thumb benzona 11 May 2013, 21:09

Thanks, it's the spirit of the revolution, and how it began in Tunisia.

Missing peace 11 May 2013, 17:53

"So sad, lesson for all u kids out there if u play with fire dont be surprised if u get burned!"

are you talking about the explosions of the hezbi arms stashes in the south that kill some of your favorite heroes?

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 11 May 2013, 19:24

theresistance, peace - both are not occasions to rejoyce.

Thumb geha 11 May 2013, 19:32

unfortunately the Syrian regime and hizbushaitan are driving the whole region to a disastrous war.
the people in south Lebanon and the Bekaa will pay an extremely high price for this.
m8 guys can be happy now but what is coming is going to be deadly.

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 11 May 2013, 19:44

FT - I am not sure if you are old enough to remember the tit for tat car bombs in Lebanon during the civil war. Wish that this stops. Do not believe that any area in Lebanon is immune. The Hizb is bringing hell to Lebanon and I fear it will consume the country if reason is not restored inside the Hizb.

Thumb benzona 11 May 2013, 21:18

Shoo Sidon? Where are you from? My family home is few meters away from the pizza hut.

Default-user-icon Ovardil Binaksur (Guest) 11 May 2013, 17:29

Erdogan is going to demand a public apology by al-Nusra of the Levant before he can resume ties with them. In my opinion, al-Nusra of the Levant should not apologize because eventually, Erdogan will be forced to deal with them again under pressure by the US with a showmanship apology.

Thumb scorpyonn 11 May 2013, 19:50

I hope NATO obliterates those Syrian bastards and the US bombbs those odious Iranians into the stone age and we get rid of these cancerous scourges that are in our midst.

Missing idris_gray 11 May 2013, 20:01

Inshallah turkey will respond this time seriously. Given its already weakened state, the Syrian army would be easy work for fresh and committed Turkish army. the Baathists better be careful...

Missing komodo 12 May 2013, 00:23


Default-user-icon istanbul syrian community (Guest) 11 May 2013, 21:35

erdogan will destrot assad and his supporters we're hope now turks became very angry in istanbul thousands persons burn assads's syrian flag and assads pictures in the streets turks so nationalist

Missing mansour 12 May 2013, 00:28

as much as i hate syria im pointing my finger at the Al Nursa for this since a few weeks ago they had a shot out with turkish police and killed 1 and a few of theres also died...Not reported in main media
Long Live The Syrian Civil War!

Default-user-icon kantalouvre (Guest) 12 May 2013, 01:15

Filth begets filth. fekhar ykasser ba3do

Missing arturo 12 May 2013, 05:00

Turkey has criticized at least one other country for bombing Syria, so we have to see how strongly Turkey adheres to its convictions of not attacking Syria when it is the recipient of Syrian bombs.

Missing ArabDemocrat.com 12 May 2013, 07:08

FT - Turkey reponded by looening the tight restrictions on weapon tranfers to the revolutionaries and the regime lost control of much of the north and east.