Turkish intelligence officers with the help of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) assets recently nabbed a wanted terrorist closely guarded by Assad's notorious Mukhabarat, the military intelligence agency, in the Syrian coastal city of Latikiya and brought him home to face justice.
The suspect, identified as Yusuf Nazik, admitted he masterminded the 2013 PKK bombing in the township of Reyhanlı that left 53 dead and scores wounded and also revealed that he had received orders for the bombing from Syrian intelligence.
This was a clear security win for the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) led by Hakan Fidan. Those who know anything about Syria in general and Latikia in particular know that it is a regime stronghold, actually second to Damascus, and is not only well-guarded, but where Syrian intelligence is very strong and closely monitors the city.Nazik, who planned and helped the execution of the bombing, admitted that he was under the protection of Syrian intelligence and that he had received his orders to bomb Reyhanlı from a Syrian intelligence officer codenamed Muhammad.
But that's hardly a surprise for anyone who knows anything about Syria. The Bashar Assad regime, just like his father Hafez Assad's administration before him, has ruled Syria with an iron fist through the Ba'ath Party and has had very close ties with the PKK – even though the regime has refused to support Kurdish rights in the country. Yet, both of the Assad leaders wanted to use the PKK, which has been waging a secessionist terrorist war in Turkey to destabilize the country and lay claim to the southern border province of Hatay. For years, the Assads have considered Hatay a Syrian territory in their own maps.
So, Hafez Assad gave refuge to PKK chieftain Abdullah Öcalan for years; he also gave the PKK training facilities in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon as well as in Afrin. Bashar Assad has continued the legacy of his father. Yet, Hafez Assad, under pressure from Turkey, had to let Öcalan go. That move eventually led to his capture by Turkey in Kenya, after which he was brought home to be sentenced to life in prison for treason and acts of terrorism. He is currently in jail in Turkey.
Though the Assads refused to give any rights to the Kurds of Syria, they have continued to host the PKK and help them. During the ongoing civil war, the relationship between Bashar Assad and the PKK has had its ups and downs, mostly due to the terrorist group's Kurdish affiliates cooperating with the U.S. to fight Daesh terrorists.
The recent capture of Nazik in the heart of a Syrian intelligence stronghold was a blow to the regime and the PKK. The regime now understands the capabilities of Turkey, and the PKK is aware that nowhere in the world is safe for their terrorist leaders.
In recent months, the MİT and the TSK have jointly succeeded in taking down several wanted PKK terrorists. Recently, the MİT used armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and F-16 fighters to kill a PKK leader in the Iraqi city of Sinjar, which once again demonstrated the enhanced capabilities of the Turkish intelligence agency. At the moment, PKK leaders holed up in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq are surely panicking now that even Syrian intelligence cannot protect them.
The Syrian regime used to taunt Turkey by organizing and financing PKK terrorist bloodbaths in Turkey. Now, it is our turn through the MİT to show them we can reach right into the heart of the Syrian establishment.