Turkey adds former PYD leader to 'most wanted' list; $1 million arrest bounty

Turkish AKP government has announced a $1 million bounty for the arrest Saleh Muslim, the former co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 06:09

The former leader of Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) Saleh Muslim was included by the Turkish Interior Ministry in the list of most wanted terrorists, local media reported, citing its sources. 

It is claimed that Muslim is one of the leaders of the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long armed conflict in Turkey, and its alleged urban wing, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).

At the start of the Syrian war, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to negotiate with Kurdish forces in northern Syria, also called Rojava. In 2013 and 2014, Muslim was invited by the Turkish AKP government to Ankara and İstanbul to hold talks on the war and the northern Syrian territories under PYD control. After a series of meetings, nothing was achieved. Following those visits, a Turkish court rendered a verdict regarding PYD and its military wings, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), as "terrorist organizations."

According to the Haberturk broadcaster, the ministry will pay 4 million of Turkish lira (more than $1 million) for any information, which may help find Muslim.

On Feb. 22, 2015, when — because of the Islamic State (IS) threat — the issue of the Turkish army relocating the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, Turkey’s sovereign piece of land in northern Syria, to Eshme village near the Turkish border came up, Muslim was one of the unsung "heroes" of that operation. YPG militants accompanied the Turkish military unit as far as the tomb under the coordination of Muslim and a few officials of the Rojava administration. The co-chair of the Kobani canton, Enver Muslim, and a YPG commander were hosted in Ankara for a few days to plan this operation. 

In November 2016, Turkey issued an arrest warrant for Muslim as he was "suspected of being involved" in staging an attack in Ankara in February 2016 that left 27 Turkish militaries killed. The former PYD leader refuted the accusations.


Mihraç Ural, allegedly the leader of the non-exist THKP/C Acilciler (Urgency Group, a splinter faction of the Turkish People’s Liberation Party/Front which has had no known activity for the past two decades at least), has also been added to the list. 

Ural's appearance at a conference in the Russian city of Sochi on the Syrian crisis last month prompted Turkish AKP government's protest. He is one of the main suspects behind bomb attacks in May 2013 in the district of Reyhanlı in the southern province of Hatay that left 52 people dead.

On May 25, 2013, then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Syria of being behind this attack. The indictment about this attack also pinpointed that THKP/C Acilciler, which supposedly has a direct connection to the Syrian intelligence, carried out this attack. 

Ural, originally a Turkish national, allegedly joined the pro-Syrian forces ranks following the outbreak of the intervention in 2011 in Syria.

However, speaking at the 992nd meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on March 27, Turkey’s Ambassador Tacan Ildem was the first Turkish official to state that the Reyhanlı attack was carried out by al-Qaeda: "More recently a massive bomb attack in the Reyhanli town center, carried out by al-Qaeda elements operating out of Syria, caused 52 deaths and 146 injuries," he said.