The government described the nine Turkish nationals as Marxists with connections to the Assad regime.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday in Hatay, near the border town of Reyhanlı, Turkish interior minister Muammer Güler said, “This incident was carried out by an organization … which is in close contact to pro-regime groups in Syria—and I say this very clearly—with the Syrian mukhabarat.”
The interior minister went on to say that among the nine people detained overnight was the mastermind of the attack, and more arrests were expected.
“We have determined that some of them were involved in the planning, in the exploration and in the hiding of the vehicles,” he said.
Speaking at the same press conference, deputy prime minister Beşir Atalay said Turkish authorities determined that the nine were involved through their “testimonies and confessions,” but did not elaborate any further.
Also speaking yesterday, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the attacks were planned by the Assad regime aimed at drawing Turkey into the “bloody quagmire” that is the Syrian civil war. The Syrian government has denied this allegation.
An official Turkish source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the nine Turkish nationals may belong to the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Iskenderun,” which is allied with the Syrian regime and which includes in its ranks Alawites of the Hatay region.
Foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said yesterday at a press conference in Berlin that it was time for the international community to take action against Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, with the security risks in Turkey and Syria’s other neighbors mounting.
Syria and Turkey became adversaries during the first stages of the uprising Assad that erupted in March 2011. Since then, Turkey has firmly sided with the Syrian opposition, hosting its leaders along with rebel commanders and providing refuge to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.