Baniyas massacre suspect claims Israel behind Reyhanlı bombings



14 May 2013 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM, İSTANBUL – A Turkish fugitive who is believed to be mastermind of the Baniyas massacre last week has rejected that he orchestrated the Reyhanlı twin car bombs that killed at least 50 people, suggesting that the Israeli intelligence is behind the bombings.

Mihraç Ural, leader of a pro-regime armed group in Syria, dismissed claims that he was behind the Reyhanlı bombings in an interview with BBC’s Turkish service. He added that the Reyhanlı bombings are organized to pull Turkey into the Middle East quagmire. There is no humanity in this bombings. It is a job of barbaric, dark minds. I strongly condemn this incident,” Ural told the BBC.

Ural claimed that he has no goal of killing innocent people, adding that he was not even in Turkey for more than 30 years. There is an Interpol red notice for Ural. He is currently in Syria and frequently travels to areas near the Turkish border behind the shield of the Assad regime. Intelligence units say he frequently meets Alawite youths on the Syrian border in meetings facilitated by Syrian intelligence, the Mukhabarat.

Ural was a senior operative of a terrorist organization named the Turkish Peoples’ Liberation Party-Front — The Hasty Ones (THKP-C/Acilciler). He claims that the organization, which Turkish authorities subtly accused of being behind the Reyhanlı blasts, does not even exist today. 

Ural acknowledged that he is leading an armed group called “Syrian Resistance.”

Ural is accused of committing a large-scale massacre in Baniyas, a predominantly Sunni city on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, after a video emerged on the Internet where he says “we need to clean Baniyas from betrayers.”

“Terrorists are using this area to flee the country. The town of Jableh [north of Banias], surrounded by the Syrian forces, cannot be a center for the betrayers. We need to cleanse Banias of traitors at the earliest,” Ural was quoted as saying. He also added that defending the sea strip is important for regime forces.

The Banias massacre has left al least 62 people dead, including 14 children, in the Ras al-Nabeh neighborhood in Banias, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCCSyria), another activist group, said 102 people were killed. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, however, claimed that at least 700 people were killed in the massacre.

On Saturday, one of the car bombs exploded outside the city hall while the other went off outside the post office in the town of Reyhanlı, a main hub for Syrian refugees and opposition activity in Turkey’s Hatay province. 50 people were killed and as many as 100 injured in the bombings.12 people were taken into custody for suspected links to the terrorist attack. Five of the captured suspects are members of the terrorist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) while the remaining four are members of the Acilciler operating in the border provinces of Turkey. Erdoğan earlier said the Syrian regime and “its extensions in Turkey have a hand in the bombings.” Ural also rejected claims that he was giving directives to killed Sunnis in Baniyas, saying that he was referring the cleansing “armed opposition” when he said the area needed to be cleaned. He said he was in Latakia when the incident took place and didn’t go to Baniyas. Ural said it is true that he is a leader of the armed group but that he didn’t commit any crimes against innocents. “Syrian Resistance will never touch to civilians. … It would always fight against armed people,” Ural added.