Syrian mortar lands in Turkey
Syrian mortar lands in TurkeyAFP/Anatolia

Turkish security forces have seized a truck laden with weapons bound for Syria and arrested three people including a Syrian, local media reported on Thursday, according to AFP.

Acting on a tipoff, security forces stopped the truck in the southern province of Hatay on the Syrian border, the local Hurriyet newspaper reported.

A significant quantity of ammunition and weapons were discovered in the truck, whose drivers claimed they were carrying aid on behalf of the pro-Islamic Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

IHH is the same organization that was behind the 2010 flotilla aimed at breaking Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. It has been accused in the past of secretly funding the Al-Qaeda terrorist group.

The group dismissed Thursday’s allegations as “slanderous”.

“Our organization has nothing to do with this case,” an IHH spokesman told AFP.

Turkey is a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has openly supported the rebels fighting his regime, but has always denied arming them.

In December, local media reported that Turkey had shipped 47 tons of weapons to the rebels since June.

But Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz denied weapons of war had been sent to Syria, saying only hunting rifles had been exported.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been especially vocal about ousting Assad, branding him “a terrorist who uses state terror”. After a chemical weapons attack near Damascus in August, Erdogan called for military intervention in Syria that would topple Assad’s regime.

The heightened tensions between Turkey and Syria have led to several cross-border incidents, including the explosion of a Syrian mortar in Turkish territory, which killed five civilians last year.