Turkey refutes tipping al-Qaeda group to US-trained fighters
AP photoTurkey has strongly denied a news report suggesting that Turkish authorities orchestrated the kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrian fighters after they entered Syria last month to confront fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), arguing that the report was “intentional.”
“The report, which was aired on a foreign news site and claimed that our country was connected with a terrorist group’s kidnapping of the first graduates of a train-equip program upon their return to Syria, is entirely imaginary,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on Aug. 26.
“Claiming that Turkey has relations with groups that it has listed as terrorist organization is intentional and flagrant slander,” said the statement which came in form of an official answer to a journalist’s question by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç.
Citing Syrian rebels as sources, the McClatchy news site reported Aug. 24 that the kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians, moments after they entered Syria last month to confront ISIL, was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence.
“The rebels say that the tipoff to al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting [ISIL],” the report said.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on Aug. 25, U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Peter Cook also rejected the McClatchy report.