Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat –The Free Syrian Army [FSA] command has confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkey foiled a plot to kidnap FSA commander Colonel Riad al-Asaad and other senior Syrian opposition military figures from the FSA headquarters in southern Turkey. An FSA official also revealed that the Syrian opposition movement had captured a double agent who had joined the FSA but who was in reality spying on the Syrian opposition for the Damascus regime. Turkish officials refused to confirm or deny this information, but did stress that Ankara is “carrying out all its duties towards its [Syrian] guests.”
Turkish sources revealed that a number of Turkish nationals were involved in the kidnap attempt, and that 2 Syrians 5 Turks who had been spying on the FSA were apprehended. The Turkish source claimed that another operation was in place aiming to disrupt a visit that is scheduled to take place in the future by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the FSA camp.
The Turkish Sabah newspaper also revealed that Turkish military intelligence had arrested a Syrian woman and a Turkish man in connection with the kidnapping plot. The newspaper indicated that the suspects were collecting a list of names of FSA officers present at the camp, and that they had been under surveillance by the Turkish intelligence service.
FSA Colonel Khalid al-Hammoud informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Turkish intelligence service foiled an attempt to kidnap Colonel Riad al-Asaad.” He added “this is not the first attempt of its kind, and we previously caught an FSA soldier in secret communication with Syrian intelligence. We handed him over to the Turkish authorities who questioned him and then returned him to Syria.”
The FSA officer also revealed that “around one month ago, Turkish border guards arrested two snipers attempting to infiltrate Turkish territory and get close to the FSA camp.”
Khalid al-Hammoud also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “nobody can kidnap Colonel al-Asaad, for he is always surrounded by more than 25 FSA members who are well-trained and efficient in personal protection” adding “his guard detail also includes Turkish police officer and elements of the Turkish intelligence service as well.”
Turkey was previously one of the Bashar al-Assad regime’s closest allies however Ankara has taken an increasingly hardline with the Damascus regime following the brutal crackdown that is being enacted upon the Syrian revolution. Speaking on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said “the Syrian regime is committing a crime against humanity every day” adding “after these many massacres and crimes, which have characteristics of war crimes, the Syrian regime closes all doors to dialogue.”
The Turkish foreign minister also stressed that “no government, no authority, under any circumstances, can endorse such a total massacre of its own people” adding “the international community must speak louder.”