A seven-year-old Syrian girl who drew global attention with her Twitter updates from besieged Aleppo met Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at his palace in Ankara yesterday.
Photographs released on Erdogan’s official Twitter account showed the president hugging Bana Alabed as she sat on his lap.
Bana and her mother Fatemah were evacuated safely along with 25,000 other people from the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo this week.
Turkey has supported rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I was pleased to host @AlabedBana and her family at the Presidential Complex today. Turkey will always stand with the people of Syria,” Erdogan said on his official Twitter account.
Helped by her mother, who manages the @AlabedBana account, Bana Alabed has uploaded pictures and videos of life during the nearly six-year-old Syrian war, gaining around 352,000 followers on the micro-blogging site since September.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said when Bana and her mother were evacuated from Aleppo that she would be brought to Turkey with her family.
The eventual departure of thousands left in Aleppo’s insurgent zone will hand full control of the city to Assad, the biggest prize of the nearly six-year-old civil war.
lThe Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took control of Aleppo city yesterday after the last batch of fighters was evacuated, but a UN official and rebels said evacuations were not yet completed.
Evacuations from the east of the city were continuing yesterday evening, a UN official in Syria said.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army rebel alliance, Osama Abu Zaid, said they would carry on into the night and had been slowed by bad weather.
He was speaking to the al-Arabiya al-Hadath news channel from the Turkey-Syria border.
Two other rebel officials also said the evacuation process was not complete.
One said there were around 2,000 fighters and civilians still waiting to be transported out of the city, although it was difficult to gauge numbers.
An aid worker told Reuters that completion of the evacuation aboard buses was expected to be “imminent”.
Erdogan sees Gulen
link to envoy killing
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday said the killer of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was a member of the group of Fethullah Gulen blamed for the July 15 coup, as Moscow warned against jumping to early conclusions.
Monday’s murder of Andrei Karlov stunned Russia and prompted warnings of retribution from the Kremlin.
But both sides responded by vowing to step up co-operation, particularly on the Syria conflict.
Off-duty Turkish policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas, 22, pumped nine bullets into Karlov at an art gallery in Ankara before he himself was killed by police in a shootout.
Pro-government press had already reported that police had discovered pro-Gulen literature belonging to Altintas, sympathisers of the preacher among his acquaintances and that he attended extra classes at a school belonging to the group.
“There is no need to make a secret out of the fact he was a member of FETO,” Erdogan said, in his first clear attribution of blame for the murder.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999, has strongly condemned the assassination and always denied involvement in the coup.
Turkey has embarked on a massive crackdown on what it calls the Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO) in the wake of the July 15 coup aimed at unseating Erdogan, arresting and sacking tens of thousands.
But Erdogan said the assassination of Karlov showed Gulen supporters were still present within the key security structures and the purges needed to continue.
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