Turkish youths joining war in Syria, report says

September 29, 2013, Sunday/ 16:17:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Young Turkish men from the southern border towns are being persuaded by Syrian militants to fight in the Syrian civil war that has been going on for more than two-and-a-half years, a newspaper reported on Sunday, citing the fathers of several young men who have gone to Syria.

The report, which appeared in the radikal daily, asserts that hundreds of Turkish men have participated in the fighting in Syria, both for anti-regime groups, including radical ones affiliated with al-Qaeda, and for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some 200 of these may be from the southeastern province of Adıyaman alone. There are also many young men, whose ages typically range from 18 to 30, that have gone to Syria from other southeastern provinces of Turkey such as Bingöl, Bitlis, Batman, Şanlıurfa and Diyarbakır, the report says.

Radikal states that many young men in Turkey have been convinced to join the fight in various cities, including Aleppo and Damascus, as part of a jihad or for money. They leave home to become members of the extremist Jabhat al-nusra, the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham and pro-Assad groups.

One of the four fathers that spoke to the daily recounted that he traveled to Aleppo to find his twin sons after they had phoned the family and told them not to look for them since they were in Syria. The father, identified only as M.D., recounted that when he finally found his sons at a villa in Aleppo, the anti-regime fighters told him to go away since his sons were there on a jihad. "They are here as part of a jihad. Are you an infidel?" he said the rebels told him, adding that they also said they would kill and bury him right then and there if he did not leave immediately.

The report also claims that there are some organizations in the border cities of Turkey that brainwash the young men with videos and extremist ideas to convince them to be fighters in Syria.

Salih Muslim, the leader of Syria's Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), recently alleged that Turkish citizens have begun to join the anti-regime groups in order to fight against the PYD, in an interview with the Taraf daily.

“Turkish citizens are joining the rebels. Three Turkish citizens recently died fighting against our members and were sent back to Turkey for their funerals, but it didn't get any attention," Muslim was reported as saying by Taraf.

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