Turkish troops evacuation from Syria
Turkey wades into Syria to evacuate troops guarding Suleyman Shah tombOsman Orsal/Reuters

A reluctant Turkey has launched a military operation in northern Syria to evacuate its troops who were guarding the tomb of Süleyman Şah.

Though one Turkish soldier was accidentally killed during the clandestine operation, it was said to be successful.

Fearing an onslaught by Islamist militants in the region, about 50 tanks were deployed as part of the mission, Turkish authorities say. Airborne early warning and control (Awacs) aircraft, helicopters and drones were thought to be part of the mission.

The mausoleum of Süleyman Şah, the grandfather of Osman I, founder of the Ottomon Empire, lies about 25kms from the Turkish border and is secured by dozens of troops. Turkey considers the area where the tomb is located as its sovereign territory and vowed to defend it if attacked.

Local reports suggest the details of the operation were finalised after discussions between top military authorities and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Davutoğlu said the remains of the tomb will be moved to a different location.

The military action was taken two days after Turkey's interior minister Efkan Ala dismissed reports that the troops were unable to come back to Turkey due to the threat posed by Islamic State (Isis) fighters.

IS militants have surrounded the troops since March last year. Media reports suggested that Turkish officials were involved in negotiations with IS to secure safe passage for the trapped soldiers.