Turkish gendarmerie forces have intercepted five Syria-bound trucks on suspicion of arms shipment in the southern province of Adana on Sunday, in the latest of similar incidents pointing to mounting concerns of unabated attempts for transfer of arms to the opposition fighters battling the Syrian regime for nearly three years.
Turkish gendarmerie forces found weapons and ammunition on seven trucks they stopped in the southern province of Adana on Sunday after receiving a tip that the trucks were transporting arms to Syria.
According to news portal T24, the gendarmerie stopped and searched the three trucks on Sunday morning. Later in the day, the gendarmerie stopped and searched four more trucks.
T24 reported that police detained three journalists, one each from the private Doğan news agency, the state-run Anadolu news agency and Başkent TV, who were trying to shoot video and stills of the incident. Police also confiscated the memory cards in the journalists’ cameras, T24 said. The journalists later were released, but their memory cards were not returned.
According to T24, after the gendarmes discovered a large quantity of weapons, the trucks were brought to the Seyhan gendarmerie compound in Adana. Two of the trucks were filled with ammunition, while another was carrying weapons, T24 said.
T24 claimed that the search was conducted on the order of a public prosecutor and that the weapons and ammunition were headed for Syria. The site also reported that an Audi automobile had been following the trucks and belongs to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT).
Before searching the trucks, the gendarmerie took security measures to prevent an explosion, using jammers to block phone signals, the report said.
CNN Türk reported late on Sunday that the trucks stopped by the gendarmerie were carrying humanitarian aid and had been dispatched by MİT, without elaborating.
The report came amid a clampdown by Turkish security forces on arms shipments across the Syrian border. Turkey has faced mounting international criticism for being soft on radical groups crossing its porous borders.
Turkish gendarmes reportedly discovered weapons and ammunition on a truck bound for Syria in the southern province of Hatay on Jan. 1, 2014. Acting on a tip, the gendarmes stopped a truck on a road between Kırıkhan and Reyhanlı near the Syrian border. A significant amount of ammunition and weapons were discovered, according to local reports.
The Turkish government said the intercepted truck was carrying humanitarian aid for embattled Turkmens stuck in besieged cities in northern Syria as fighting escalated between radical opposition groups and Kurdish forces.
In another similar incident, a total of 935 rocket warheads were seized from a truck in Adana in early November. Turkish police are still investigating allegations that the truck carrying the warheads and 10 launchpads was heading for al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria. Adana Governor Hüseyin Avni Coş said the seizure of the weapons disproves claims that Turkey is aiding extremist groups in its war-torn neighbor.