US arms may flow through Turkey for militants

US arms may flow through Turkey for militants
Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:03:12

Media reports say Turkey, a NATO member, is likely to be the transit destination for US-supplied lethal weapons to foreign-backed militants fighting the Syrian government.

American newspaper USA Today quoted Christopher Harmer, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War, as saying that the US is vetting to use Turkey's Incirlik Air Base, which is technically a NATO air base, as a hub for supplying militants in Syria with weapons.

"The US moves cargo through there all the time," Harmer said, adding that establishing a supply route to the militants "is not that hard."

The report added that the US-supplied weapons are planned to reach terrorists in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo through southern Turkey.

The American newspaper confirmed that Washington has been sending communication equipment to militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army through Turkey.

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allowed weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to move through his country, and he supports the toppling of Syrian President Bashar Assad,” USA Today said.

Ankara has already welcomed Washington’s decision to send weapons to the militants.

Turkish officials say the decision is timely and will help create a level playing field against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The report came as US President Barack Obama has ordered his administration to provide militants in Syria with weapons as the Syrian forces regain control of more areas in the country.

The decision came on Friday a day after the US claimed that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the militants and thus crossed Washington’s “red line.” Damascus has rejected the allegation as “lies.”

The delivery of the weapons, which include assault rifles, shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank missiles, would be carried out through the CIA, reports say.

Russia and the United Nations have criticized the US decision to arm the militants in Syria. Moscow warned that the move “risks escalating (violence) in the region.”

The US decision comes days after the militants suffered heavy losses and lost control of the strategic town of Qusayr. Syrian forces have also started an all-out operation to regain full control of the northern city of Aleppo.

Obama has been under pressure to increase the US involvement in the Syrian conflict.

On Tuesday, Former US President Bill Clinton said Washington’s failure to intervene in the conflict in Syria would be “a bad mistake.”

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