'Iran transporting weapons to Syria through Turkey'

Four trucks held by Turkish authorities two weeks ago carried missiles, chemical weapons materials, 'Taraf' reports.

January 21, 2012 17:12
2 minute read.
Turkish soldier examining cargo [illustrative]

Turkish soldier examining seized cargo 311 . (photo credit: REUTERS/POOL New)

Four trucks with Iranian license plates that were stopped two weeks ago in southern Turkey on the border with Syria were found to be carrying raw materials for making ballistic missiles and chemical weapons, Turkish daily Taraf reported Friday, after Iran denied that the trucks were transporting weapons material to Sryia.

While Turkish officials did not publicize the contents of the cargo in the Iranian trucks, Taraf reported that one truck was carrying for six-meter-long cylindrical tanks and heat-resistant materials, while the other three vehicles were transporting 66 tons of sodium sulfate, which can be used to make chemical weapons.

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Turkey - which imposed an arms embargo on Syria last September - has dispatched a scientific team to study the contents of the freight, while the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency has also requested a report on the trucks' materials.

The Iranian embassy in Ankara denied earlier this month that the four trucks held by Turkish customs were carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria, while a spokesman for Turkey's foreign ministry said an investigation was still in progress.

The trucks were confiscated in Turkey's southeast province of Kilis at the Oncupinar border crossing into Syria.

Turkey abandoned its past friendship with Assad to side with protesters, and has set up camps on its southeast border to host thousands of refugees who have fled the violence in their homeland.

Syria has also been suspended from the Arab League, leaving Damascus with few friends outside of Tehran.

Concern is growing in Israel over the possibility that Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons will fall into terrorist hands amid predictions that President Bashar Assad’s regime will fall.

Syria is believed to have one of the most extensive chemical weapon arsenals in the world, reportedly including sarin, VX and mustard gas.

The concern partially stems from Western intelligence indicating that advanced weaponry has already been moved out of Syria by Hezbollah.

“The same could also potentially happen with chemical weapons,” a senior defense official explained.

Reuters and Yaakov Katz contributed to this report

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