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Turkey aware of militants crossing border to Syria – Report

Al-Akhbar | November 25, 2014

A video published on Al-Mayadeen’s website on Tuesday revealed that up to 100 civilians and militants cross the Syrian-Turkish border daily under the surveillance of the Turkish army, which never interferes.

The footage made public by the news channel shows an unsupervised stretch of the border, specifically that separating the Syrian governorate of Aleppo and the Turkish provinces of Gaziantep and Kilis.

One Syrian who appears in the video said that there were a number of individuals who coordinate with the Turkish army and were responsible for organizing the movement of civilians, militants and smuggled goods across the border.

The footage echoes a similar report in October, where a foreign Islamist fighter who joined the Syrian rebel ranks in 2012 told Reuters that the Turkish borders “were wide open” and armed rebels “used to get in and out of Turkey very easily. No questions were asked. Arms shipments were smuggled easily into Syria.”

The border has become a safe haven for militants to move freely and smuggle weapons and aid inside Syria into the regions they occupy. According to the Al-Mayadeen report, some Turkish officers are also involved in smuggling arms into Syria.

Residents of the Turkish towns on the border reported living in chaos. They recalled an incident when Turkish reporters were attacked with knives by a group of militants and were later threatened by the Turkish government if they didn’t keep quiet regarding the attack.

In October, Press TV’s correspondent in Turkey, Serena Shim, was killed in a “suspicious car accident” near the Turkey-Syria border, days after she told Press TV she had obtained images of militants infiltrating into Syria through the Turkish border in trucks belonging to the World Food Organization and other NGOs.

Amid fierce clashes between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants and Kurdish forces in the key Syrian town of Kobane last month, Saleh Moslem, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), accused Ankara of supporting ISIS, saying it had turned a blind eye when 120 ISIS militants crossed into Kobane through the Turkish borders.

The Syrian government consistently accused Turkey, a NATO member and one of Washington’s key allies in the region, of playing a major role in fueling the armed crisis in Syria by opening its borders and allowing free access to foreign jihadists into Syria.

Damascus has repeatedly accused Turkey of harboring, financing, training, and arming militants since violence erupted in March 2011.

The Syrian government sent letters to the United Nations time and again attacking Turkey’s “destructive” role in the Syrian conflict.

In 2013, Syria’s foreign ministry said in letters addressed to the UN Security Council and to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that “Turkey supports and publicly justifies terrorist, destructive acts against Syria” and “has turned its territory into camps used to house, train, finance and infiltrate armed terrorist groups, chief among them the al-Qaeda network and the al-Nusra Front.”

Again in 2014, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari submitted a letter to Ban Ki-moon in which the Syrian government criticized “Turkey’s role in supporting terrorism in the region.”

Jaafari said that Turkish authorities allowed thousands of foreign terrorists, extremists and mercenaries from across the world to enter Syria and provided armed groups with funds, weapons and other forms of support, which is a “blatant violation of international agreements on counter-terrorism.”

In October, Jaafari reiterated his remarks against Turkey and its regional allies, days after US Vice President Joe Biden unwittingly revealed – then later apologized without denying his claims – that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were all actively involved in arming and funding terrorist groups in Syria.

Turkey has repeatedly rejected all accusations.

November 25, 2014 - Posted by | War Crimes | ,

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