AP — The Syrian government has accused Turkey of allowing “terrorists” to freely cross the border after Ankara said the common-law wife of one of the Paris attackers entered Syria from Turkey earlier this month.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday that the woman, Hayat Boumeddiene, arrived in Turkey from Madrid on January 2 before crossing into Syria on January 8, the day after the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Turkey is a strong backer of Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad, whose government views all of its armed opponents as “terrorists.”
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Monday that Turkey had aided terrorists who “shed the blood of Syrians and innocent people worldwide” and called on the international community “to stop Turkey’s destructive policy.”
Boumeddiene crossed into Syria on Thursday, the day after the Charlie Hebdo newspaper massacre that left 12 dead, and the same day her husband shot a French policewoman to death on the outskirts of Paris.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday that Boumeddiene arrived in Turkey from Madrid on January 2, ahead of the attacks in Paris. She stayed at a hotel in Istanbul with another person before crossing into Syria on Thursday, he said.
Video emerged Sunday of Coulibaly explaining how the attacks would unfold. French police want to find the person who shot and posted the video, which was edited after the attacks last week, including Coulibaly’s kosher grocery hostage-taking Friday that left four people dead, and after Coulibaly himself was killed.
Turkish intelligence tracked Boumeddiene from her arrival on January 2. She and her traveling companion, a 23-year-old man, toured Istanbul, then left January 4 for a town near the Turkish border, according to a Turkish intelligence official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Her last phone signal was on January 8 from the border town of Akcakale, where she crossed over apparently into Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria. Their Jan. 9 return tickets to Madrid went unused.
Survivors say the Charlie Hebdo attackers, two brothers from Paris, claimed they were from al-Qaeda in Yemen, the group the U.S. considers the most dangerous offshoot of that network. In the video, Coulibaly pledges allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has taken over large sections of Iraq and Syria.
Ties among the three attackers date back to at least 2005, when Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, 32, were jailed together. It later emerged that Cherif’s older brother, 34-year-old Said, fought with or was trained by al-Qaida in Yemen.
Cherif was also convicted in 2008 along with several others of belonging to a network that sent jihadis to fight American forces in Iraq.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.