Turkish officials arrested nine Turkish nationals accused of having ties to Syrian intelligence forces for the brutal car bombings that killed 46 people in Reyhanli, a town on the border of the two countries where Syrian refugees have started living since the conflict began.
High-ranking Turkish ministers blamed Bashar Al-Assad's government for the attacks on Sunday claiming all nine people arrested were tied to groups with connections to the Syrian regime. The two car bombings came about 15 minutes apart on Saturday and tore through a busy commercial and residential area.
Damascus denied their involvement in the bombings. "Syria didn’t and will never undertake such acts because our values don’t allow us to do this," interior minister Omran al-Zoubi told a press conference. The attacks came less than a week after Turkey announced it would support a no-fly zone over Syria.
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay and Interior Minister Muammer Guler alleged Syria's Mukhabarat cooperated with groups within Turkey to try and disrupt the unity of Syrian refugees living in harmony with the Turkish nationals in the border town. In an effort to dispel any anger towards the refugees, Turkey announced a state-wide media ban relating to the attacks. Unfortunately scenes coming out of the border city paint a nasty picture:
On Sunday, Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee in Reyhanli, said he and other Syrians had been sequestered in their homes since the bombings. His windows had been blown out by one of the explosions, a few blocks away. After the bombings, youths threw rocks through the open windowpanes. On Sunday, three young Turkish men smashed the hood and windows of a white van downstairs that belonged to a Syrian neighbor.
So far there's no indication Turkey will respond with military force. The government will try and quell the domestic fervor before thinking about entering any sort of spillover fight with Syria.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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