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Tuesday 20th March 2018

After Libya, Turkey’s Regime Sends Weapons to Syrian Rebels


7Dnews London

Sat, 25 May 2019 23:35 GMT

After a week delivering a shipment of weapons to support the terrorist militias in their fight in Libya, Erdogan's regime handed over a shipment of arms to the militant factions in Syria, which has been suffering from a civil war since 2012.

The Turkish regime has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian rebels, backing them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and rebel sources told Reuters on Saturday May 25th.

As reported by Reuters, Russia is backing the Syrian army's large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of rebel-held territory in the northwest of the country.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched the assault last month, saying rebels had breached an existing ceasefire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It is the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and his enemies in Idlib province and the belt of territory around it.

Two senior opposition figures spoke to Reuters saying that Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia, in recent meetings of a joint working group, that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey,

In doing so, Turkey signalled its readiness to preserve its influence in north-western Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior rebel commander said.

Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived at a base in northern Hama near rebel-held Jabal al Zawiya, which Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a rebel and a witness said.

The delivery of dozens of armoured vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and so-called TOW missiles, helped roll back some Syrian army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda, one senior opposition figure said.

A spokesman for the Turkey-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), Captain Naji Mustafa, did not confirm or deny any new supplies from Turkey, saying rebels had long had a big arsenal of weapons from anti-tank to armoured vehicles "alongside material and logistical support by our Turkish brothers".

The retreat from Kfar Nabouda was an upset to a Russian goal of a speedy military campaign to gain another slice of the heavily populated Idlib province.

In the last 24 hours, the Syrian army has been sending large troop reinforcements ahead of opening a new front, a source in touch with Syrian army commanders told Reuters.

The Syrian army said on Saturday that it is continuing to intensify its attacks on terrorist hideouts in the northwest.

A Turkish-backed militia grouping called the National Army, which operates in the north-western border areas near Turkey, has been allowed to join mainstream rebel factions along the frontlines.

"Large numbers of our fighters have joined with all their weapons to repel the assault," said Major Youssef Hamoud, their spokesman.

The rebels' readiness to put aside differences that once led to bloody internecine fighting has united jihadists and mainstream rebels for the first time in years.

These movements by the Turkish regime come one week after the arrival of a ship with 40 armoured vehicles on board to support the terrorist militias, according to a 7Dnews source.

The ship, which came from the Turkish port of Samsun, arrived off the Libyan coast early on Sunday, May 19th.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, added that the armoured vehicles are Turkish-made BMC Kirpi; Qatar Investment Authority owns 50% of its shares. 

The source added that Turkish businessman and AKP member, Ethem Sancak, runs the company, which only sells it weapons to Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Qatar.

On Saturday, May 18th, armed militias affiliated with Libya’s Tripoli government(GNA) acknowledged that it had received a shipment of armoured vehicles and arms, as it tries to stop the Libyan National Army (LNA) from taking the capital, Tripoli.

Middle East