CHP returns Syria-bound MİT trucks to Parliament’s agenda

Introducing his question, Erdem cited a recent statement made by Davutoglu, who claimed that those who stopped and searched the weapon-filled trucks in January 2014 were the ones responsible for the ongoing massacre of Turkmens living in northern Syria carried out by armed forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “We now see more clearly the dark powers that carried out operations against our support to our Turkmen brothers in Syria,” Davutoglu said.

Erdem asked the prime minister, “Since Syrian Turkmen leaders made it clear that they have not received any weapons from Turkey, is your recent acknowledgement of an arms shipment to Syria explicit evidence of an arms shipment to ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]?”

In January 2014, gendarmes stopped three Syria-bound trucks in the southern provinces of Adana and Hatay, after prosecutors received tip-offs that the vehicles were illegally carrying arms to armed organizations in Syria.

Syrian-Turkmen Assembly Vice Chairman Hussein al-Abdullah refuted claims that they had received arms or humanitarian aid from Turkey at the time.

Erdem asked Davutoglu to clarify whether Turkmens in Syria received any support from the Turkish government. “Is your government supporting Turkmen jihadist organizations in Syria? Is your foreign policy based on imperialist ambitions? Do you support groups that have turned the whole country into a blood bath? Is your foreign policy structured on sectarianism?” Erdem asked.

The government quickly dismissed claims in January 2014 that three trucks intercepted and searched by the Turkish military on order of prosecutors in Adana had any weapons. Davutoglu, who was foreign minister at the time, asserted that the cargo was humanitarian aid destined for embattled Syrian Turkmens on the other side of the border.

Testimonials by gendarmerie intelligence officers involved in the interception confirmed, however, that the shipment’s destination was not an area with any Turkmens. The Syrian destination, as disclosed by the drivers, was often a target for reconnaissance by Turkish military personnel who secured the border.

Moreover, the gendarmes said the area was populated by radical groups, including al-Qaeda and ISIL.

The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy chairman responsible for foreign affairs, Yasin Aktay, admitted that the trucks were in fact transporting arms, but said the receiver was the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is fighting the Syrian government, not ISIL.

On the other hand, İbrahim Kalın, spokesman and adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has claimed Turkey has never sent any weaponry to Syria.

In May, the Cumhuriyet daily put an end to the speculation by publishing video stills of weapons carried by Syria-bound trucks in a convoy run by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), discrediting the government’s earlier claim that the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid to Turkmens in civil war-torn Syria.

The stills were obtained from prosecutor’s office files concerned with the ongoing case of trucks run by MİT, the daily said. The daily also uploaded video footage to its website.

According to the report, there were six steel containers in the trucks that contained a total of 1,000 artillery shells, 50,000 machine gun rounds, 30,000 heavy machine gun rounds and 1,000 mortar shells. All of this is registered in the prosecutor’s file about the MİT trucks case, the report said.

Upon the publication of the story, the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office quickly launched an investigation into Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet and the author of the report, for breaching the Counterterrorism Law (TMK).

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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