Islamic State foiled in attempt to kidnap Syrian rebel leader in Turkey

Heavy smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition aircraft in Kobane, Syria Photo: Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images

A top Syrian rebel commander was shot and wounded in an apparent kidnapping attempt by the Islamic State in a Turkish city, raising questions about Ankara’s readiness to stop jihadists operating on its soil.

Abu Issa, the leader of Thuwar Raqqa, a Syrian rebel group who has been fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) in the town of Kobane, was ambushed by Isil extremists in Urfa in neighbouring Turkey.

Ankara has adopted tighter national security measures in recent months in an attempt to stem the flow of foreign fighters who have used its long border with Syria as a conduit to jihad.

But the flagrant kidnapping attempt in the southeastern town of Urfa, shows how Isil can still operate inside this Nato country with relative impunity.

The rebel commander and his son, Ammar, 20, were snatched from the car on Friday afternoon whilst returning home after meeting with Turkish officials in Urfa city centre, his aides told the Telegraph.

“Isil cars blocked the road ahead of them, and four armed men grabbed them from the vehicle,” said Ahmed Abdul Khader, a spokesman for Thuwar Raqqa. “It was 6.30pm.”

A matching account of the kidnapping was separately given to the Telegraph by Abo Ayham, another military commander in the group.

Abu Issa’s closest advisor, who was driving, had been in on the Isil plot, Mr Khader said, detouring to the quiet back road where the attack happened: “When the Isil cars blocked the road ahead, Abu Issa told the driver to turn around, but he just switched the engine off, and let the kidnappers take them from the car,” he said.

Abu Issa recognised two of the attackers, who had not covered their faces, as Isil members.

The kidnappers drove Abu Issa and his son at top speed towards the border and were intending to smuggle them to Syria…

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