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Syria Criticizes Turkish PM for Cross-border Tomb Visit

  • VOA News

FILE - Turkish soldiers stand guard at the entrance to the memorial site of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, in Karakozak village, northeast of Aleppo, Syria, April 2011.

FILE - Turkish soldiers stand guard at the entrance to the memorial site of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, in Karakozak village, northeast of Aleppo, Syria, April 2011.

Syria said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu committed an act of "flagrant aggression" Sunday by crossing the border without Syrian consent in order to visit a historic tomb.

The state-run SANA news organization said Davutoglu was in "grave violation of international laws and accords" when he went to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. The site is in Syria's Ashma region, about 250 meters from the border.

SANA further called the visit a publicity stunt ahead of Turkey's upcoming elections.

Syria complained in February when Turkish troops carried out an operation to relocate the tomb from an area controlled by Islamic State militants to its current site. It had been moved once before, in the 1970s, because of flooding when the Euphrates River was dammed.

Turkey and Syria have had tense relations throughout Syria's four-year civil war, with Turkey backing rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian officials have accused Turkey of supporting "terrorists," a term they routinely use to describe all anti-government fighters.

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