Ankara refutes UN report claiming Turkey route for arms to al-Qaeda

Ankara refutes UN report claiming Turkey route for arms to al-Qaeda

Ankara refutes UN report claiming Turkey route for arms to al-Qaeda

ISIL militants (Rear) stand next to an ISIL flag atop a hill near Kobane as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border, with Turkish troops in foreground, in the southeastern town of Suruç, Şanlıurfa province. AFP Photo / Aris Messinis

Turkish Foreign Ministry refuted a United Nations report claiming that Turkey is being used as one of the primary routes for weapons smuggling to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra.

“Unfounded claims,” the ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç told reporters on Dec. 30, elaborating on a report penned by the U.N. al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.

Most of the weapons that are seized by the jihadist groups are from armies of Iraq and Syria and origins of those arms are members of the UN Security Council, he noted.

“Most [arms] supplies have either been seized from the armed forces of Iraq or (to a lesser extent) the Syrian Arab Republic, or have been smuggled to ISIL and [al-Nusra], primarily by routes that run through Turkey,” said the report which was prepared by Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team to be presented to UN Security Council.

“The arms and ammunition come from stored materials that date back to the 1980s and 1990s, along with more recent supplies,” the report dated to Nov. 14 has said.

The foreign ministry official reaffirmed that al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been designated as terrorists groups by Turkey. Ankara has been “adamantly” fighting against the jihadist group and Turkey is part of anti-ISIL coalition.

“Turkey is not merely fighting against the terrorist groups, but also in cooperation with international organizations especially with UN Analytic Support Group,” he said.

Bilgiç noted that the group members visited Turkey in September and did not elaborate on “smuggling of arms”, though struggle with the ISIL was widely discussed during the visit. 

“Therefore, this allegation is new to us,” the spokesperson said noting that Turkey has asked the UN for an “explanation and strongly reacted as well.” 

Moreover, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) officials in Iraq has conveyed Turkey’s Embassy in Baghdad that they did not have any relevant data on the claims, Bilgiç said.

The UNAMI officials also expressed unease over Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team’s reference to them for the claims, he noted.

“We asked the UN officials on which grounds they raised those allegations,” the spokesperson stated.

Turkey has been pressured by Western countries to beef up its measures at borders, which have been claimed to be a primary route for jihadists’ oil and weapons smuggling as well as foreign jihadists’ joining the war in Syria.

Turkey, for its part, denies the accusations of negligence in its border policies and insists that it is maintaining a close and firm watch on its borders.