Turkey accused of sending arms to Syrian rebels

2015-05-29 13:24
Free Syria Army (FSA) fighters battle with regime loyalist soldiers to dislodge a sniper from its position overlooking the two main roads in the neighbourhood of Askar, in Syria's northern city of Aleppo. (File, AFP)

Free Syria Army (FSA) fighters battle with regime loyalist soldiers to dislodge a sniper from its position overlooking the two main roads in the neighbourhood of Askar, in Syria's northern city of Aleppo. (File, AFP)

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Istanbul - Images and video footage allegedly showing trucks belonging to Turkey's state intelligence service carrying weapons en route to jihadist rebels in Syria were published on Friday in a Turkish daily.

The Turkish government has vehemently denied earlier claims that it is arming rebels fighting in Syria and accused dozens of prosecutors, soldiers and security officers involved in the searching of trucks of attempting to bring it down by suggesting that it is doing so.

Earlier this month, Turkey arrested four prosecutors who ordered searches in a similar incident in January 2014 and they are now in prison pending trial.

More than 30 security officers involved in that interception also face charges including military espionage and attempting to overthrow the government.

The footage published on opposition Cumhuriyet daily's website on Friday shows inspectors searching a metallic container watched by security officers, a prosecutor and sniffer dogs.

The officials first open cardboard boxes marked as "fragile" and full of antibiotics. But under those boxes they find dozens of mortar shells, the video, shot by an anonymous bystander, appears to show.

Cumhuriyet, which also published a series of still images, said the weapons were of Russian origin and had been supplied from ex-Soviet countries.

The daily claimed the trucks were carrying a total of 1 000 mortar shells, 80 000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons as well as hundreds of grenade launchers.

The Turkish authorities have sought to link the affair to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of running a parallel state through supporters in the judiciary and police with the aim of usurping him.

Turkey has vehemently denied aiding jihadists in Syria such as ISIS, although it wants to see Syrian President Bashar Assad toppled.

Tensions are running high in Turkey ahead of June 7 parliamentary elections, with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) seeking to hold on to the dominance it has maintained since it first swept to power in 2002.

Read more on:    isis  |  syria  |  turkey  |  security  |  syria conflict

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