5 Turkish citizens are lost in war-torn Syria, including a Turkish cameraman who has encountered much publicity due to his abduction,Turkish journalist Cüneyt Ünal, who was snatched in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo by regime forces on Aug. 21 while covering the civil war
Sources declared that they’ve no data on the fate of these citizens with the exception of Ünal: video footage of the cameraman was aired by Syrian regime forces, a step that Turkey powerfully responded against as the video demonstrates a photograph of Ünal with a launcher in his hand, presenting him as terrorist. Turkey told the Syrian government will be held responsible for the safety and well-being of Turkish citizens kidnaped by regime forces.
Sources told that İ.Ç., H.B., İ.G. and H.Y. went missing after the consulate general in Aleppo chose to set aside its consular actions in July 2012.
Turkey closed its embassy in Damascus in March due to deteriorating security conditions in Syria. Despite the closure of the embassy, Turkey’s consulate general in Aleppo had remained open to provide services for Turkish citizens in the region, but Turkey recalled its consular officials in Aleppo, including Consul General Adnan Keçeci, in July for consultations.
According to sources, İ.Ç. was reported missing after his arrest on Aug. 2 by the border forces, while he and his family, who had lived in Syria for 12 years, were trying to cross at the Kesep border gate to flee to Turkey due to the clashes in Syria. H.B., İ.G., and H.Y. have also been reported as missing after their entry into Syria at the Yayladağı border gate on July 24.
Sources mentioned that there have been seven confirmed killings of Turkish nationals in Syria during the conflict, while others have been abducted in both Syria and Lebanon as reprisal for the Turkish government’s open condemnation of embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s minority regime and the brutal killings perpetrated in Syrian towns and cities.
Some of these murders and abductions were deliberately committed by regime forces, while other individuals were simply caught in the crossfire. In the latter case, it would be difficult to ascertain who was responsible for the killings.
Beside the killings of seven Turkish nationals, eight Turkish nationals have been seriously wounded during the 17-month-long conflict in Syria, sources have stated.
Sources also added that there could be a lack of information due to its irregular flow.
In June, Syria admitted responsibility for the shooting down of an unarmed Turkish warplane in international airspace, killing Capt. Gökhan Ertan and Lt. Hasan Hüseyin Aksoy.
Two Turkish journalists, Adem Özköse (34) and Hamit Coşkun (21), were kidnapped and held for two months while reporting on the uprising in Syria. They were released in May.
The collateral damage of Turkey’s stance on Syria has also spilled over into Lebanon, where Abdülbasit Arslan, a truck driver, and Aydın Tufan Tekin, a businessman, were kidnapped by armed groups with close ties to the Syrian regime.
Tekin, who works for Arçelik, was kidnapped near the airport shortly after arriving in Beirut in mid-August. He was kidnapped along with about 20 Syrians after a senior member of the Meqdad clan was abducted in Damascus by Syrian opposition forces. The clan members say Turkey is one of the opposition fighters’ regional sponsors. Arslan, who works for the Kain Astry Company, was kidnapped, in mid-August in Choueifat, a southeastern Beirut suburb, by armed men working for the Hamlet (al İmam) al Sadr Tour Company.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has already issued travel warnings for Turkish citizens planning to go to Syria and Lebanon, urging them to rethink their travel plans.