Turkey arrests soldiers over Syria-bound arms interception
Story Code : 461322
Police issued arrest warrants for 10 troops on Friday, of whom eight were detained the same day, Anatolia news agency reported on Saturday.
The suspects are accused of collaborating with terrorist groups, espionage and impeding the work of the government. After a hearing, the court will decide whether to remand them in custody to set them free on bail.
A total of 55 people, including four high-ranking prosecutors, have been arrested in the case. A convoy of trucks loaded with weapons was stopped in January 2014 near the Syrian border in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana.
The interception triggered a huge controversy in Turkey with Internet documents showing that the vehicles belonged to Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) and were loaded with arms destined to the Takfiri militants fighting the Syrian government.
Judiciary officials later confirmed that MIT personnel were on board the trucks.
The case was a major blow to the Turkish government, which has vehemently denied any cooperation with terrorist groups operating in Syria.
Reports, however, have revealed Turkey’s covert support for terrorist groups like ISIL and Nusra Front.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to link the case to his top challenger, Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric.
Erdogan accuses Gullen of running a parallel state and says the interception of the Syria-bound consignment and the ensuing controversy were directly orchestrated by Gulen and his followers in the judiciary and police, a charge Gulen supporters have repeatedly dismissed.
Investigation into the case has been under way in utmost secrecy with the government strictly filtering media coverage of the issue.