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Turkish intelligence services in plot to assassinate Kurdish politician Salih Muslim in Rojava

TURKISH intelligence services have been accused of plotting to assassinate two prominent Kurdish political leaders in the northern Syrian enclave known as Rojava and establishing a network of spies there.

Former leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim and Aldar Khalil of the executive committee of the Democratic Society Movement (Tev-Dem) were the reported targets of the operation, according to reports seen by the Morning Star from the region’s internal security forces, known as the Asayish.

Its officers carried out operations that exposed a network of spies providing detailed information to Turkey’s National Intelligence Unit (MIT) and detained an operative who had been working inside the Asayish.

Referred to by the initials SAT, he was recruited to MIT via a contact called Badi Ali, who has been tasked with creating sleeper cells and a network of spies in Rojava.

After his arrest, SAT confessed to working for the Turkish spooks and gave details of the plot to assassinate the high-profile Kurdish politicians in northern Syria.

SAT was carefully selected by Mr Ali because he had access to privileged information and was able to reach areas that others could not, due to his role as a driver for a regional official. 

He is accused of passing on GPS locations of a number of key sites, including details of buildings and institutions that were used for meetings by the region’s political leaders.

In one WhatsApp message to Mr Ali he sent video footage with the accompanying text: “Here is the headquarters of the Democratic Union Party. Now, a meeting is going on; tell me if you are going to bomb it so that I can get away from here now.”

During questioning, SAT admitted to meeting other operatives in Rojava.

One of them, known as Abu, passed on a mobile phone he claimed had been sent by MIT and taught him a number of techniques, including how to send GPS locations.

He admitted that Abu had asked him for information about Kurdish political leaders in Rojava and the location of soldiers of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces “which would be used in the assassination of Kurdish revolutionaries and politicians.”

Turkish intelligence services have an extensive network operation in the Middle East, Europe and the US, often targeting high-profile Kurds and opponents of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It is widely believed that MIT was behind the assassination of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) co-founder Sakine Cansiz and two other Kurdish women, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez, in a Paris community centre in 2013.

In 2014, MIT was at the centre of a scandal after a number of its trucks were revealed to be carrying weapons across the border to Syria, apparently intended to arm Isis jihadists who were battling with Kurds.

And in 2018 Mr Muslim was detained in Prague on the prompting of MIT. He was placed on an Interpol “red list” by Turkey, which also offered a $1 million bounty for his arrest.

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