Syria's industry body sues Turkey for 'terrorism, looting': report

Syria's industry body sues Turkey for 'terrorism, looting': report

DAMASCUS- Agence France-Presse
Syrias industry body sues Turkey for terrorism, looting: report

Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are seen beside a cement factory at the Sheikh Saeed district, in Aleppo February 3, 2013. REUTERS/George Ourfalian

Syria's industry body has filed a case in a European court against the Turkish government for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and looting factories in strife-torn Syria, a report said on Monday.

The Syrian Chamber of Industry filed the case in an unspecified European country, and accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of backing armed gangs against the national interest of Syria, pro-regime daily Al-Watan reported.

"This is a case aimed at asserting our rights, regardless of our political opinion," Al-Watan quoted the chamber's president Fares Shehabi as saying. He said that several Syrian unions have signed on to the complaint.

"We have the necessary documents... to prove Erdogan's obvious involvement in sponsoring acts of banditry and terrorism." He said the chamber accuses Erdogan of contributing to the "transfer of factory (machinery from Aleppo province in northern Syria) to Turkey," and of "supporting armed gangs who are committing crimes against the national economy".

In January, Syria accused Turkey of plundering factories in Aleppo, once the country's commercial hub, and called on the United Nations to help put a stop to what Damascus described as "an illegal act of aggression that amounts to piracy".

"Some 1,000 factories in the city of Aleppo have been plundered, and their stolen goods transferred to Turkey with the full knowledge and facilitation of the Turkish government," the Syrian foreign ministry then said in letters sent to the UN.

Shehabi said the legal complaint is aimed at compelling Ankara to "change its policy towards Syria" and to bring back the stolen goods.

Once allied to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, Ankara broke ties with Damascus to support the revolt that erupted in March 2011.

Turkey is hosting some 200,000 Syrian refugees who fled the fighting in their country.