Syria: Turkey allowing al-Qaida transit
September 16, 2012
By ALBERT AJI AND BASSEM MROUE. The Associated Press
DAMASCUS, Syria -- Syria accused neighboring Turkey yesterday of allowing thousands of Muslim extremists to cross into its territory, as the government and opposition said an explosion killed at least seven and cut off a main road leading south from the capital.
In letters to the UN Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the Foreign Ministry said Turkey allowed "thousands of al-Qaida, Takfiri and Wahhabi terrorists" access to the country in order to "kill innocent Syrians, blow up their properties and spread chaos and destruction."
Syrian authorities blame the anti-government uprising that began in March last year on a foreign conspiracy and accuse Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with the United States, other Western countries and Turkey, of offering funding and training to the rebels, whom they describe as "terrorists." Turkey serves as headquarters for the leaders of the Free Syrian Army rebels and hosts many meetings of the opposition group Syrian National Council.
Relations between Turkey and Syria, once strong allies, have been deteriorating since the crisis began last year and Ankara became one of President Bashar Assad's harshest critics. Although the conflict has left Syria internationally isolated, Iran has stood by Assad.
Yesterday, the top commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said the elite unit has high-level advisers in Lebanon and Syria but remains undecided on whether to send military reinforcements to help save Assad's regime.
The comments by Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari were the clearest indication to date of Iran's direct assistance to its main Arab allies, Assad and Lebanon's Hezbollah. It also suggests Tehran is wary about being drawn into a Middle East conflict if outside forces attack Assad, who is locked in a civil war.