Russian Ambassador to Turkey Killed on ‘Aleppo revenge’


A Turkish bodyguard apparently assassinated the diplomat as revenge for Russia’s war in Aleppo.

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was shot and killed in Ankara Monday by a gunman who cried out that it was “revenge” for  Russian bombing that killed civilians in Aleppo, witnesses said.

Karlov was attending the opening of a photography exhibition at a city gallery close to the U.S. Embassy when the assailant approached him and fired at close range.

Turkish officials said the ambassador was taken to hospital, but reporters who attended the gallery opening said he had not been removed from the building. Russian state media has confirmed Karlov’s death.

 The attack occurred shortly after 7 p.m. local time, and reporters arriving at the scene a half hour later said they heard gunfire from within the building. TV footage, captured on Turkish channel TRT, show Karlov doubling over and collapsing after behind shot from behind while addressing a crowd from a podium. The gunman, dressed in a suit and tie, then comes into view, raises a finger in the air and points his weapon at unseen targets off-screen. One eyewitness said that the assailant spoke Turkish.
A preliminary translation of his comments read as follows: “Don’t forget Halep [Aleppo], don’t forget Syria. Don’t forget Halep, don’t forget Syria. You will not taste safety unless our fields are safe. Only death can get me out of here. Whoever has a share in this tyranny will pay for it one by one.”

The gunman got into the building evidently as part of Karlov’s security detail, witnesses said. Several Turkish media outlets are now reporting his identity as 22 year-old riot policeman Mert Altintas. However, The Daily Beast cannot confirm this information.

According to Russian news website, the shooter allowed people to exit the art gallery after he shot the ambassador.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu arrived at the scene.

The assassination occurred on the eve of a scheduled meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers to discuss next steps in the Syria crisis after the Assad regime, with the help of Russian airstrikes and Iranian-commanded Shiite militias, captured rebel-held east Aleppo and expelled tens of thousands of civilians.

The last convoys were expected to move Tuesday, Turkish officials said.

 Turkish-Russian relations reached a nadir in December 2015 after after the Turkish Air Force downed a Russian fighter jet that had briefly entered Turkish airspace en route from a bombing raid in Syria. One of the pilots who ejected from the hit warplane was subsequently killed by Syrian rebels as he parachuted down.

The episode led to the suspension of trade, touristic and other commercial and a period of great acrimony between the two countries. Russia implemented a blockade on Turkish imports such as a cotton, and Vladimir Putin responded military, refocusing his intervention in Syria on destroying Turkish-backed rebels operating in the mountainous coastal region of Latakia and Idlib provinces.

Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan issued what amounted to an apology for downing the plane, Ankara and Moscow have revivified their relationship to a remarkable extent.

In August, Erdogan sought Russia’s consent to deploy Turkish forces into northern Syria as part of the months-long Operation Euphrates Shield, which was waged both to eliminate the presence of Islamic State militants at the Turkish-Syrian border but also to block any attempts by U.S.-backed Kurdish militias, seen as affiliates of a proscribed terrorist organization by the Turkish state, from carving out a separatist statelet.

Also, in yet another show of diplomatic rehabilitation, the initial ceasefire and “evacuation” agreement for trapped civilians and rebels in Eastern Aleppo was brokered by Turkey and Russia. Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and his Iranian patrons, were not consulted.



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