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Turkey Evacuates Historic Tomb In Syria As ISIS Fighters Approach

The tomb of Suleyman Shah, who died in 1236, is a symbol of national pride. Though located in Syria, it has long been under control of Turkey with an honor guard of Turkish soldiers.

Last updated on February 22, 2015, at 4:54 p.m. ET

Posted on February 22, 2015, at 4:54 p.m. ET

The Turkish government evacuated soldiers and ancestral relics from a historic tomb inside Syria on Saturday amid fears advancing ISIS fighters will attack the site.


The tomb of Suleyman Shah, who was the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, is a symbol of Turkish national pride.

Although it is located across the border in Syria, it's long been under Turkish control.

ISIS has previously threatened to destroy the historic site, and as fighters have surrounded the area, the tomb's 38 Turkish guards have been put in increasing risk.

Getty Images

On Saturday night, a Turkish convoy of 9 tanks and 57 armored vehicles — as well as several hundred soldiers — entered Kobani, Syria, the BBC reported. They removed the remains of Shah, evacuated the Turkish guards, and destroyed the mausoleum.


The new home of the tomb is closer to the Turkey-Syria border, in an area controlled by the Turkish military.

Ilyas Akengin / Getty Images

"The Tomb of Suleyman Shah and Memorial Outpost, which had been relocated twice in previous years, shall continue to wave the Turkish flag and keep the memory of our ancestors alive in accordance with international law and agreements," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a statement.

One Turkish soldier accidentally died in the operation, according to the government.

It was the first time Turkish soldiers had carried out an operation in Syria since the country fell into war four years ago, Reuters reported.

Ilyas Akengin / Getty Images

In return, the Syrian government in Damascus called Turkey's actions a violation of longstanding treaties.