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    Protests broke out outside the Russian General Consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday evening following reports about the liberation of the strategically important city of Aleppo by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    Who Hides Behind Protests Outside Russian Consulate in Istanbul

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    Protests broke out outside the Russian General Consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday evening following reports about the liberation of the strategically important city of Aleppo by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The protest was organized by a number of pro-Islamic groups, including the World Islamic Organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.

    Sputnik Turkey tried to find out who authorized Tuesday’s protest as well as the reason behind it.

    In an interview with Sputnik Turkey a leading member of Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party, Ali Özgündüz, said that the protest, which also included representatives of radical jihadist organizations, had been held with the knowledge of and support from the authorities.

    “The Turkish leadersip, the government, the Interior Mınistry and the National Security Agency were certainly in the know about the planned protests, that’s why police didn’t interefere. Moreover, they sort of ensured protection for the participants of those protests, most of whom are memebers of radical jihadist groups,” Ali Özgündüz said.

    ​“Unfortunately, the Turkish government tends to support certain local branches of Syrian radicals and yesterday’s rallies proved that,” he added.

    Saying that members of  the National Union of Turkish Students had also taken part in Tuesday’s protest, Ali Özgündüz said that since parliamentary speaker İsmail Kahraman once led the Union, the organizers of Tursday’s rally outside the Russian diplomatic mission had apparenly received a preliminarty nod from the authorotoes.

    ​“I’m certain that many of the protesters have links to the ruling Justice and Development Party, which apparently organized that rally,” Ali Özgündüz said, mentioning the controversial position of the Turkish government, which  sanctions anti-Russian protests while emphasizing the need to build up friendly ties with Moscow.

    Meanwhile, a source within a Turkish public organization promoting ties between Ankara and Moscow, told Sputnik on condition of anonymity that the protests in Istanbul had been organized by Turkish public organizations Özgür-Der, Mazlum-Der and forces with links to the Free Syrian Army.

    Describing Aleppo as a sensitive issue for Turkey, he called the rally a sign of Turkish concern over the Syrian Army’s operation in Aleppo.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Ali Ergin Demirhan, an expert on jihadist organizations in Turkey, said that the jihadist groups fighting in Syria were getting considerable amounts of weapons under the guise of humanitarian aid.

    “Even though these groups often pose as humanitarian and human rights organizations, they are actually acting in support of radical jihadist elements,” he said.

    ​“The participants of [Tuesday’s protest] consider themselves as a side in the Syrian conflict. They are driven by a desire, long encouraged by the Justice and Development Party, to bring Islamists to power inSyria and spread jihadist ideas worldwide. Thus endorsed by the government, these groups  had a chance to  make their way into Syria and join in the fray.”

    “Unable to criticise the government for giving up on its ambitioous plans in Syria after the recent fencemending with Moscow, these groups are taking their angst out on Russia.”

    Ahmet Berat Çonkar, co-chairman of the Turkish-Russia Public Forum, described Tuesday’s protest in Istanbul as a “humane act.”

    “The Turkish people are expressing their legitimate protest and expect that Russia, which has such a big sway over the Syrian government, to act in a humane and sensitive way in Aleppo. This is a fairly natural reaction on the part of the Turkish people.”

    He also hoped that the protests will not have any negative impact on relations between Turkey and Russia.

    “Just as we align our positions on the basis of our shared values, Turkey and Russia will be able to move ever close to each other for the benefit of our two countries and the region as a whole,” Ahmet Berat Çonkar emphasized.

    Sergei Losev, a press attaché for the Russian consulate in Istanbul, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that the mission had strengthened its security measures overnight, adding that the situation in front of the consulate was “calm.”

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    jihadist supporters, liberation of Aleppo, Russian consulate, rally, protest, Turkish Justice and Development Party, Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (Republican People's Party, CHP), Sergei Losev, Ali Özgündüz, Ali Ergin Demirhan, Bashar Assad, Turkey
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