Turkey warns pilgrims not to return home through Syria
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has warned Turkish citizens who are returning to Turkey from performing the Islamic pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria in the wake of armed attacks on Turkish pilgrims in Syria on Monday.
The statement said although Turkish pilgrims were earlier told to take flights back home, some pilgrims and individuals who went to Saudi Arabia to work during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha were returning to Turkey by bus. The ministry urged citizens to return home by plane if possible. The statement said if road travel is necessary, citizens passing through Syria should only travel during the day.
Tensions between the Syrian administration and Turkey have once again run high after three buses carrying Turkish pilgrims to Turkey from Saudi Arabia were attacked at a check point in Syria on Monday. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the attack occurred near the central city of Homs, where Syrian activists reported at least nine people killed by security forces on Sunday. The statement said two Turkish citizens were injured in the attack.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry recalled an earlier warning it issued for Turkish citizens planning to travel to Syria in the wake of attacks on Turkish pilgrims. Last week, the ministry also issued a warning to Turkish nationals not to travel to Syria unless absolutely necessary due to difficulties in establishing public order, while also urging those currently in Syria to be cautious and remain in contact with Turkish missions at all times after pro-regime protestors attacked Turkish missions in Syria.