ISTANBUL — Russia’s ambassador was shot dead in the Turkish capital on Monday in an assassination apparently linked to Syria’s civil war, heightening tensions over a conflict that’s drawn in almost all the region’s main powers.
Andrey Karlov was shot in the back at an art exhibit in Ankara on Monday, and later died from injuries sustained, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The assailant shouted comments about Aleppo, the Syrian city where mostly Islamist rebels have been defeated this month by Russian-backed government forces, CNN-Turk television said. Turkish media reported that the attacker was killed by security forces.
Karlov’s killing comes days after one of Russia’s biggest victories since it joined the Syrian war last year in support of President Bashar Assad. Assad’s army, with Russian air support, has retaken almost all of the city that was once Syria’s largest. Turkey, which has backed the rebels in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, has played a key role along with Russia in negotiating the ongoing evacuation of fighters and civilians.
The attack on the Russian ambassador is the latest flashpoint between major powers that are engaged on opposite sides of the Syrian war. Ties between Turkey and Russia came under heavy strain after the Turkish military shot down a Russian plane last year, though both governments have since made an effort to repair them. The U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia are among the other countries that are either fighting in Syria themselves or providing money and weapons to groups that are.