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Syria: Turkey Supplied 47 Tons of Weapons to Islamist Rebels

Despite past denials, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman admits UN report detailing military support to Syrian rebels.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 12/16/2013, 3:32 PM

(Illustrative)
(Illustrative)
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The Turkish government has supplied Syrian rebel forces with more than 47 tons of weapons in the past few months it has been revealed - this despite the Islamist government strenuously denying such charges in the past.

According to official documents filed under UN Comtrade (the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database), Turkish arms have been flowing into Syria since June. Recent months have seen the highest volume of traffic, with almost 29 tons of weaponry transferred in September alone. 

After initially denying the report, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Gümrükçü eventually confirmed the UN figures, admitting to Turkey's Hürriyet daily that they were based on previous records from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK),

The weaponry was reportedly filed as "guns without military uses" - a category which includes shotguns and hunting rifles, but excludes assault weaponry such as AK-47s, and allows states to bypass the Syrian weapons embargo. It is not clear, however, what the deliveries actually contained.

Turkey has been regularly accused of supplying Sunni Islamist rebels in Syria with advanced weaponry. Kurdish factions in particular have charged that the Turkish government is using Islamist militias as proxies to target Syria's emboldened Kurdish population, which recently alarmed Ankara by setting up an autonomous region which abuts the Syrian-Turkish border.

Other Syrian opposition forces have also alleged that the AKP government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provided military and logistical support for Islamist brigades inside Syria, citing the free movement of Islamist fighters both to and from Turkey - sometimes even being openly bused through the border in broad daylight.