Report: Turkey arms, trains Syrian opposition

May 22, 2012, Tuesday/ 18:33:00/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM

Turkey is providing light arms to select battalion commanders and also training Syrians in İstanbul, The Telegraph reported.

The report published on Tuesday quoted opposition fighters in southern Turkish province of Hatay, where Turkey hosts leadership of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as saying that Turkey is supplying light arms to select battalion commanders and it is also training Syrians in İstanbul.

The report claimed that some men from the unit were called up by “Turkish intelligence in the last few days and large consignments of AK-47s are being delivered by the Turkish military to the Syrian-Turkish border.”

“No one knows where the guns came from originally, but no one much cares,” the report added.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two Sunni-ruled nations, have backed the idea of arming the opposition against Assad's Shiite-ruled government, but the West remains opposed. Western nations, along with Turkey, moved instead to create a fund for the opposition fighters at a meeting in İstanbul. Turkey and the US also agreed last month for non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition.

Syria's foreign minister earlier accused Turkey of undermining a peace plan drafted by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan by arming Syrian opposition fighters and helping them cross the border and urged Ankara to express commitment to the plan.

“Turkey … supports illegal Syrian militant groups, supplies them with weapons … and lets them illegally cross into Syria,” Waled al-Moallem said at a press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow. “How can we [fulfill the plan] if there are still illegal arm deliveries and the movement of militants from Turkey?”

Moallem said Turkey, in violation of the Annan plan, harbors armed groups who attack Syrian troops and allows them to smuggle weapons across the border, calling the northern neighbor a “part of the problem.”

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