Sun, Apr 03, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Russia says Turkey arming IS

‘OFFICIALS’ COMPLICITY’:Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin said that ‘explosives and industrial chemicals’ are being smuggled from Turkey to ‘terrorist groups’ in Syria


Kurdistan Workers’ Party members prepare a barricade in Nusaybin, Turkey, on Feb. 25.

Photo: AP

Russia has accused three Turkish foundations of supplying weapons and military equipment to the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and said US$1.9 million worth of explosives and industrial chemicals were smuggled across Turkey’s border to militant groups.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said in a letter to the UN Security Council circulated on Friday that Turkey is the main supplier of weapons and ammunition to Islamic State fighters.

He said the transfers are overseen by the National Intelligence Organization and are delivered mainly by vehicles, “including as part of humanitarian convoys.”

In an e-mail, a spokesman for Turkey’s UN Mission said the Russian letter “obviously contains baseless allegations, which we totally reject.”

The spokesman said that many Turkish citizens have been killed in attacks by the Islamic State, which he called a threat to national security.

Russia’s air campaign that began on Sept. 30 last year has helped close ally Syria make broad advances on the ground in the five-year-old war that has killed more than 250,000 people. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other regional players have backed opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and are loath to see him strengthen his grip on power.

The Turkish spokesman said Russia’s letter was “an attempt to overshadow the civilian deaths, havoc and destruction in Syria caused by the military operations of the Russian Federation, the regime’s staunchest ally.”

Russian aircraft target Islamic State positions.

A US-led international coalition estimates that the militant group has lost 40 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and about 20 percent of its territory in Syria.

Churkin’s letter gave details of convoys with military equipment and munitions for Islamic State fighters and of funding allegedly arranged by the three foundations.

It said one foundation has sent 7,500 vehicles with various supplies to Islamic State-controlled territory since 2011.

The letter said that among the supplies were ammunition for TOW anti-tank missile systems, RPG-7 grenade launchers and small arms, M-60 recoilless rifles, 82mm mortar shells, hand grenades, communication tools and equipment from the Turkish intelligence services.

The letter also said “smuggling explosives and industrial chemicals to terrorist groups operating in Syria is also usually organized from Turkish territory” through the border crossings.

“In order to pass through the border controls unimpeded, effectively with the complicity of the Turkish authorities, products are processed for companies that are purportedly registered in Jordan and Iraq,” it said.

Churkin said large consignments of explosives are often transported by water, especially the Euphrates River.

The letter listed the total supplies of explosives and industrial chemicals sent “to terrorists through Turkey in 2015.”

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