UPDATE - Turkish intelligence nab suspects who targeted Turkish flag in Syria

UPDATE - Turkish intelligence nab suspects who targeted Turkish flag in Syria

17-year-old suspect attacked Turkish flag in Al Bab, near Turkish border

ADDS TESTIMONIES OF SUSPECTS

By Esin Isik

ANKARA (AA) - Turkish intelligence apprehended suspects who made provocations against the Turkish flag in northern Syria, security sources said Friday.

A 17-year-old who attacked the Turkish flag in Al Bab was caught as a result of the efforts of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, said sources, who asked not to be identified due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Turkish forces are present in northern Syria, near Türkiye’s southern frontier, as part of an anti-terrorist force working to keep locals and Turkish nationals safe across the border.

The suspect reportedly apologized in front of the Turkish flag, kissing it and saying: "I attacked the Turkish flag, I regret it very much, I apologize to the Turkish people."

Two other suspects who took part in the provocations apologized to the Turkish people in statements.

Security forces started an operation to catch those who instigated the suspects.

One of the arrested said: "My brother and I were influenced by the events in Kayseri and made this mistake; our intention was not to defame the Turkish people. We have both religious and ethnic ties with the Turkish people. The Turkish people host millions of Syrian refugees."

"The Turkish army has always been by our side. I apologize once again to the Turkish government," he added.

Another suspect who had taken down the Turkish flag in the region was also arrested.

Ahmed Nana said in his testimony that he and others were influenced by provocations from circles and pressure from social media platforms, leading them to act wrongly.

Provocations targeting Türkiye took place in northern Syria following incidents against refugees in Türkiye’s Kayseri province and other provinces on June 30.

When a Syrian national was arrested for sexually abusing a 7-year-old in Kayseri, it incident sparked outrage among residents, leading to violence and social media negativity against Syrians -- about 4 million of whom are hosted in Türkiye due to the civil war in Syria.


*Writing by Gozde Bayar and Alperen Aktas from Istanbul


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