“We handled handovers for Turkish soldiers in Suleiman Shah”

ISIS amir Abu Hajir said they handled the handover ceremonies for Turkish soldiers during the year they had the Suleiman Shah Tomb under blockade in 2014.

ISIS members held prisoner by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to confess their relationship with the Turkish state. ISIS prisoners say they will testify to these relationships in international courts to be set up for their trial.

The ISIS amir Bilal Mihemed Abu Hajir, who came from Morocco to join ISIS in 2014 after being introduced to Salafist thought and has been active in ISIS since, said they handled the handover ceremonies for Turkish soldiers during the time they had the Suleiman Shah Tomb under blockade.

Abu Hajir said he flew to Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul from the Mohammad Khan Airport in Casablanca, then from Istanbul to Urfa, and crossed into Syria through the Akcakale border gate without any issue. Abu Hajir has been active in several regions in Syria.

The ISIS amir said he was responsible for “Rif Heleb”, the northern countryside of Aleppo, for the organization’s military stationing such as ditches, positions, tunnels and barricades in his time in ISIS, and gave important information on the Suleiman Shah Tomb and the turnover of Jarablus to the Turkish army.



Bilal Mihemed Abu Hajir said he was responsible for the ISIS bases in Jarablus, Bab, Al Rai and Manbij and spoke about the ISIS handover of Jarablus to the Turkish state without any clashes: “Abu Enes Iraqi was the military official there. The decision came and we withdrew without resistance.”

When asked, “Was that due to a deal?” he said: “That wasn’t the first deal they struck. There had been agreements before. For instance, the Suleiman Shah Tomb, the handover of consulate workers in Iraq. We were preparing to fight, but orders came in to withdraw. There was obviously a deal there.”


Abu Hajir said shortly after they took the Qereqozax Bridge and surroundings, where the Suleiman Shah Tomb stood, from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups, some of their men took a Turkish soldier prisoner: “A group of Muhajirs (“migrants”, used for foreign ISIS fighters) from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan took a Turkish prisoner prisoner. They turned him over to our officers. The next day a ranking Turkish army officer came in, met with our higher ups and they handed the soldier over to him to take away.”


When asked, “What kind of a deal did you have when the Suleiman Shah Tomb was in Qerekozax, did you handle the logistical needs of the Turkish soldiers?” Abu Hajir gave a striking answer: Abu Hajir said Turkey changed the soldiers stationed in the region periodically rather than sending them logistical support, and added that ISIS would handle the handover of the Turkish soldiers.


ISIS amir Abu Hajir confessed to handling the handovers: “When the Turkish soldiers stationed in the Suleiman Shah Tomb were to handover duties to a new group, our men would be notified and they would bring them in from the border, and take the soldiers leaving to the border to hand them over to Turkey. The incoming group would have supplies, ammunition and logistical support with them. We would transport them.”


The ISIS amir spoke about the route for the Turkish army handover and said: “We would take them from the Tomb and deliver them to Karakozak, from there to Jarablus and there to Rai (Cobanbey). We would handle their security as well.”

The ISIS amir named Bilal Muhammed Abu Hajir said he will testify to these relationships and what he witnessed in an international court set up for their trial.


Qereqozax and its surroundings where the Suleiman Shah Tomb stood was taken over by ISIS on March 13, 2014 when FSA fled the area. On March 20, 2014, ISIS posted a declaration on YouTube and said they would “raze the tomb to the ground if it wasn’t evacuated in 3 days and the Turkish flag taken down”.

Then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement on March 25, 2014 and said “If there is such a wrongdoing, whatever is necessary will be done.”

Then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said a crisis desk was set up for the tomb and argued that “any and all retaliation (would) be considered if there (was) a threat”.


After YPG/YPJ fighters cleared the area of ISIS in February 2015, the Turkish state moved the tomb to Kobane’s Eshme village with permission from the Kobane Canton Administration and support from the YPG/YPJ.

The Turkish state, in almost a show of allegiance to ISIS, had no issues with handling the handover of their soldiers with permission and support from ISIS, but protested Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Ocalan’s salute to the “Eshme Spirit”.


Ocalan had said the following on the “Eshme Spirit” in his Newroz 2015 message: “I salute the Kobane resistance and victory which had great significance for our region and for the international community. I salute the ‘Eshme Spirit’ that developed on this foundation as a symbol of the new history between our peoples. The analyses I attempted to make above are an invaluable call for the revision, restoration and reconstruction of our history and our present as a society.”


The Turkish General Staff, which was OK with handing their soldiers over to ISIS, protested the stress on the “Eshme Spirit” and issued a statement saying, “We strongly condemn the persons and publications, as witnessed by the Great Turkish Nation, who would use such a comparison for the Turkish Armed Forces, a proud, dignified and honorable National Army that has sacrificed thousands of martyrs and veterans fighting a terrorist organization aiming to change the Constitutional order in the Republic of Turkey for the last 31 years.”