September 12, 2018 / 2:35 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Turkish intelligence seizes bombing suspect inside Syria

(Adds justice minister quote)

By Humeyra Pamuk

ISTANBUL, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Turkish intelligence has seized a man in Syria suspected of coordinating a 2013 bombing that killed 53 people in southern Turkey, a Turkish security official said on Wednesday.

The state-run news agency Anadolu said that during his questioning, Yusuf Nazik confessed to having received orders from Syrian intelligence to plan an attack in Turkey and having arranged the transport of explosives into Turkey.

Twin car bombs ripped through the border town of Reyhanli on May 11, 2013. At the time, Turkey accused a group loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out the attacks. Damascus denied any involvement.

Nazik was captured in Syria’s government-controlled city of Latakia by members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) and repatriated to Turkey with the support of the Turkish armed forces, the security official said.

The official said no intelligence or logistic aid was received from any foreign state during the operation. It was not clear when Nazik was apprehended and repatriated.

There was no reaction to the arrest in Syrian state media.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul praised the operation by the intelligence agency.

“Wherever the criminal is, whichever terror organisation it is, our state will of course follow it to the end and deliver the punishment to those who deserve it before the independent judiciary,” he said.

Turkey has recently seized or brought back numerous people wanted for involvement with the network of the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara says was responsible for a failed July 2016 coup attempt. Gulen denies any involvement.

In February, 22 people were jailed in connection with the 2013 bombing, Anadolu said.

Reyhanli is home to thousands of Syrian refugees. Following a series of bombings in the region in 2013, Turkey tightened controls along its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria.

Turkey has been one of the biggest supporters of the rebels fighting Syrian government forces during the seven-year conflict in Syria. It hosts some 3.5 million Syrian refugees. (Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Daren Butler and Mark Heinrich)

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