x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Kidnap attempt of Free Syrian Army leader is foiled

The prosecutor's office in the southern Turkish province of Hatay confirms that two Turkish citizens and one Syrian were arrested on May 16 for plotting to kidnap Colonel Riyad Al Assaad.

ISTANBUL // An attempt to kidnap the commander of the main Syrian rebel force and take him back to Syria has been foiled by Turkey's judiciary.

The prosecutor's office in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, on the border with Syria, confirmed yesterday that two Turkish citizens and one Syrian were arrested on May 16 for plotting to kidnap a Syrian former colonel from a refugee camp in Apaydin in the province.

The spokesman added that Turkish media reports about the incident were correct. The Milliyet newspaper had said the kidnap bid targeted Colonel Riyad Al Assaad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a rebel force of Syrian army deserters.

Ankara allowed Col Assaad and others to create the FSA on Turkish territory last year. A number of Syrian deserters who fled to Turkey have been housed at the camp in Apaydin. Col Assaad's whereabouts is not known.

The news about the attempted kidnapping came as the Syrian uprising grows in strength.

In February, the Turkish authorities said five people, including a former member of Turkey's main intelligence service, had been detained for abducting another FSA officer from a refugee camp and sending him back to Syria, where he was reportedly executed.

tseibert@thenational.ae