Tomb of Suleyman Shah

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Tomb of Suleyman Shah
Süleyman Şah Türbesi
Tomb of Suleyman Shah.jpg
Basic information
Location Turkey Sovereign territory of Turkey landlocked by Syria [1]
Geographic coordinates 36°38′19″N 38°12′27″E / 36.638629°N 38.20752°E / 36.638629; 38.20752Coordinates: 36°38′19″N 38°12′27″E / 36.638629°N 38.20752°E / 36.638629; 38.20752
Affiliation Islam
Region Manbij District
Architectural description

The Tomb of Suleyman Shah (Turkish: Süleyman Şah Türbesi) is a sovereign exclave of Turkey situated in Aleppo Governorate, Syria.[1] It is the burial place of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. He is believed to have drowned in the Euphrates river in modern-day Syria and an Ottoman tomb in or near Qal'at Ja'bar has been associated with Suleyman Shah.[2]

In accordance with Article 9 of the Treaty of Ankara signed between France and Turkey in 1921, the tomb "shall remain, with its appurtenances, the property of Turkey, who may appoint guardians for it and may hoist the Turkish flag there."[3] The treaty is silent in regard to the land beneath the tomb.

In 1973, the location of the tomb was flooded when the Tabqa Dam created Lake Assad. At that time, the legal exclave and the tomb was moved to a new location some 80 km north of Qal'at Ja'bar,[4] but also on the Euphrates riverside, not far from the town of Sarrin and located a mere 35 km from the Turkish border. To date, Turkey maintains a small military presence as an honour guard at the site and has continued to do so throughout the Syrian Civil War.

Events during the war in Syria[edit]

On 5 August 2012, during the Syrian Civil War, the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that "The tomb of Suleyman Shah [in Syria] and the land surrounding it is our territory. We cannot ignore any unfavourable act against that monument, as it would be an attack on our territory, as well as an attack on NATO land... Everyone knows his duty, and will continue to do what is necessary."[5]

On 20 March 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant threatened to attack the site unless the Turkish troops were withdrawn within three days. The Turkish government reiterated that any attack on the tomb would be treated as an attack on Turkish soil.[6]

On 27 March 2014, recordings were released on YouTube[7] of a conversation purportedly involving Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) head Hakan Fidan, and Deputy Chief of General Staff General Yaşar Güler. The recording has been reported as being probably recorded at Davutoğlu's office at the Foreign Ministry on 13 March.[8] Transcripts of the conversation reveal that, as well as exploring the options for Turkish forces engaging in false flag operations inside Syria, the meeting involved a discussion about using the threat to the tomb as an excuse for Turkey to intervene militarily inside Syria. Davutoğlu stated that Erdogan told him that he saw the threat to the tomb as an "opportunity."[9]

On 2 October 2014, Turkish lawmakers authorised the use of the Turkish military against ISIS purportedly based on the threat of ISIS capturing the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Turkey to defend Syria exclave at all costs: President". Anadolu Agency. 2014-10-03. Retrieved 2014-10-18. 
  2. ^ Sourdel, D. (2009). "ḎJabar or Ḳalat ḎJabar". In P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, et al. Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Brill online. 
  3. ^ "Franco-Turkish agreement of Ankara" (in French and English). Retrieved 8 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Burns, R. (1999). Monuments of Syria. An historical guide. London: I.B. Tauris. pp. 180–181. ISBN 1-86064-244-6. 
  5. ^ Ankara warns against attack on tomb, Hürriyet Daily News, 7 August 2012.
  6. ^ Erdoğan: Attacking tomb of Süleyman Şah means attacking Turkey, Today's Zaman, 26 March 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ YouTube ban: How Turkish officials conspired to stage Syria attack to provoke war RT, 28 March 2014.
  10. ^ Turkish lawmakers OK military action against ISIS CNN, 02 October 2014.