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MIDEAST > Documents show Turkey sent guns to Syrian rebels

Tolga Tanış WASHINGTON/ Hürriyet

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The numbers found in the UN Comtrade database of international trade were based on records from the Turkish Statistics Institution. AFP photo

The numbers found in the UN Comtrade database of international trade were based on records from the Turkish Statistics Institution. AFP photo

Turkey has sent over 47 tons of weaponry to the Syrian rebels since June, according to documents filed under the United Nations trade records, despite repeated denials from government ranks.

The U.N. records show that Turkey has sent varying amounts of guns to the Syrian rebels over the past few months, with the highest amount reaching nearly 29 tons of weaponry in September alone. The numbers are found in the U.N. Comtrade, a database of international trade statistics detailed according to commodities and partner countries.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Gümrükçü initially denied the numbers, but later on confirmed to daily Hürriyet that the U.N. numbers were based on previous records from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK), which filed the weaponry sent to Syria as “guns without military uses.”

This category, which includes shotguns and hunting rifles, but excludes more advanced weaponry such as Kalashnikovs, allows for states to bypass the weapons embargo currently imposed on Syria.

Turkey has repeatedly denied providing military assistance to the Syrian rebels, despite several reports claiming otherwise.

Back in August, opposition sources claimed that 400 tons of arms had been sent into Syria from Turkey to boost insurgent capabilities against Syrian government forces, after a suspected chemical weapons strike on rebellious suburbs of Damascus. The claims were strictly denied by Turkish diplomats at the time.

In November, authorities seized nearly 1,000 rocket heads after searching a truck in the southern province of Adana. The local governor said 10 people had been detained in the raid, during which 935 rocket heads and 10 launching pads were seized. At the time, Adana Governor Hüseyin Avni Coş claimed that the operation proved Turkey was not supporting radical groups in Syria.

December/16/2013

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