The Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated this evening in a terrorist attack, apparently in retaliation for Russian intervention in Syria and Aleppo.
Ambassador Andrey Karlov was speaking at an art gallery in Ankara when a Turkish gunman, clad in a suit and tie, approached him from behind and shot him several times at close range. The man then brandished his gun at the terrified audience, shouting “Allahu Akbar” and warning them “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
The gunman was killed by officers in a shootout with Turkish Special Forces, and Russian media announced that Karlov too was dead. At least three others were injured by stray bullets.
The gunman’s statements seem to link him, ideologically if not personally, to ISIS fighters waging war against Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria. Since 2011, an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed, and over 10 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes.
Russia has been Assad’s strongest supporter throughout the conflict. The United States and Turkey have separately backed unaffiliated rebel groups who oppose both the al-Assad regime and the extremist Islamic faction.
The tragedy has exacerbated the already tense diplomatic relationship between Russia and Turkey. Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Erdogan announced that they will launch a joint investigation to assess whether the gunman worked alone or was following orders.