Turkey has increased weapon, ammunition and equipment shipments into Syria, according to Damascus, in exchange for oil and antiquities looted by Islamic State terrorists. Meanwhile Moscow condemned Ankara for supporting “armed thugs” operating in Syria.
“We have certain information that the Turkish government recently increased support for terrorists and the level of supplying them with arms, ammunition and munitions to continue their criminal acts in exchange for oil and antiquities stolen from Syria and Iraq at low prices, taking advantage of the presence of terrorists whom it enabled to control border areas,” a statement from the Syrian General Command said, as cited by official Syrian news agency SANA.
The new weapons shipments, allegedly paid for with smuggled oil and artifacts, are being delivered disguised as humanitarian aid, and easily pass through Turkish border controls, Syrian officials claimed. Additionally, Turkey was been accused of escalating border tensions by shelling Syrian army positions in northwestern Latakia province from al-Aqra’a Mountain on Friday night.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan previously rejected accusations that Ankara is involved in the oil trade with terrorists, saying that anyone making such a statement must prove it. Erdogan accused Damascus of purchasing oil from ISIS.
On Thursday a Turkish prosecutor requested the arrest of the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper, Can Dundar, and Cumhuriyet’s representative in Ankara, Erdem Gul, charging them with espionage and treason over a publication back in May that revealed that Turkish weapons were being transferred to Syria by Turkey’s intelligence agency. The story was accompanied by a video allegedly showing Turkish trucks packed with shells heading for Syria.
The recent downing of the Russia warplane “proves” that Turkey supports terrorism in Syria, said Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem, who is visiting Moscow.
“Turkey helps terrorists due to ideological reasons, thinking that these terrorist groups are successors to the Ottoman empire,” Muallem said.“Turkey provides terrorists with weapons, logistical support, medical care and even shelter.”
Speaking on the same subject on Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Turkey of supporting the“armed thugs” who killed the Russian pilot.
“These people Ankara seeks to protect … [in] every possible way, including illegal means, have nothing to do with civilians. They are armed thugs that shot down Russian pilot and then desecrated his body,” Zakharova stated.
The notion was previously voiced both by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin himself.
“We were stabbed in the back by those who support terrorism,” Putin said the day Turkey shot down the Russian warplane. The Russian leader also noted a “commercial-scale supply of oil from the occupied Syrian territories seized by terrorists” into Turkey, documented in reconnaissance missions and regularly struck by the Russian Air Force as one of the priority targets in the war against ISIS and other terror groups in Syria.