Turkish military did not make any effort to prevent Daesh from digging deep trenches in broad daylight and filling them with explosive devices in the narrow stretch of land between the militant-held Syrian city of Jarabulus and the border, local residents told RT.
“We could easily watch them [build fortifications]. It’s very close to the border, like 50 meters away. If you can see the trenches from here now, you should have seen them being dug with all that big equipment,” Bulent Polat, a shop owner from the Turkish town of Karkamis, told the television network.
A power shovel, left standing by the trench, is still visible in the distance.
Karkamis has been largely abandoned in the months after a foreign-sponsored insurgency set the neighboring country on fire. The ripples of the Syrian war reached the city when Daesh began to launch rockets across the border.
Yet the Turkish authorities do not seem to be eager to protect their own citizens.
“Once when [Daesh] fired a rocket, when some top army officials came here we asked: ‘Why are you not taking action?’ They said the order from the top is only to take security measures for the soldiers,” Bulent said.
Yet, for the shop owner, peace and security seem to be only a step away. If Ankara choses to act, Jarabulus would become Daesh-free in an instant, he suggested. It will only take the Turkish military “24 hours” to tackle the militants around Jarabulus.
But the Turkish military is not the only one ignoring Daesh activities across the border. Bulent and other locals saw military aircraft of the US-led coalition traversing the skies over Jarabulus and Karkamis. They did not launch airstrikes.RT correspondent Lizzie Phelan and her crew visited Karkamis and talked to its residents. While there, the crew saw a Daesh flag flying over a pink building and vehicles moving across the border. The journalists also heard militants transmit messages like “God help [Daesh] in its fight” over loudspeakers.
Turkish leadership, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has long been scolded for not taking a tougher stance on Daesh and not doing enough to secure the border with Syria, a step that would deal a major blow to the terrorist group that relies heavily on outside supplies to maintain its grip on the region.
The shop owner offered to take Phelan to the war-torn country, adding that she would have to wear a burqa and could not mention that she was a journalist. There were no other conditions. In other words, getting into Syria from Turkey is not an issue, but for trapped civilians leaving Jarabulus there are problems.It is unsurprising then that Bulent and other locals do not support the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “I won’t vote for the AKP even if they offer me the whole city,” he said, referring to Karkamis.
Earlier, RT uncovered a treasure trove of documents that pointed to Daesh selling oil to Turkey amongst other things. The journalists found invoices in liberated Syrian border city of al-Shaddadi.
Ankara has long been accused of providing aid to radical groups trying to overthrow Erdogan’s former ally Bashar al-Assad, whom the Turkish president now views as his opponent.