Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told journalists on Tuesday that he saw video footage showing arms and ammunition in Syria-bound trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) which were stopped by gendarmes and police last year.
Speaking with journalists from the Hurriyet daily at a breakfast on Tuesday morning, Kılıçdaroğlu said the security of Turkey’s Syrian border will be made as strong as pre-2011 levels once the CHP becomes the government. “Illegal border crossings, migrant smuggling and arms smuggling will not be overlooked,” he declared.
Confirming a recent revelation by Yasin Aktay, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy chairman responsible for foreign affairs, who said on video that MİT trucks were carrying arms to the anti-regime Free Syrian Army (FSA) rather than to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Kılıçdaroğlu said the gendarmerie and police filmed the opening of the crates on the trucks inside which can be seen arms and ammunition. “I watched. It is not possible to hide it. It was not humanitarian aid loaded in the trucks.” He added.
The short video, posted on Saturday on the Oda TV website, shows Aktay arguing with a local man who was apparently criticizing the government for supporting ISIL.
In the video, which Oda TV said was recorded in the southeastern province of Siirt, Aktay is heard having a discussion with the man, who says ISIL militants are given treatment at Turkish hospitals in Adana and who accuses the government of supporting ISIL’s offensive on Kobani. During the conversation, the man asks about the trucks, which he says are carrying arms to ISIL.
“They were going to the FSA,” Aktay responds, “and the FSA’s number one enemy is ISIL.”
Top Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, have maintained in the past that the trucks were carrying humanitarian aid to Turkmens in Syria. Aktay is the first person to reveal that the weapons-filled trucks were on their way to the FSA.
In January 2014 Turkish gendarmes and police stopped the Syria-bound trucks in Adana and Hatay after prosecutors received tip-offs that the vehicles were illegally carrying arms to Syria. The weapons were allegedly destined for extremist groups in Syria, including ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates.
The government has called the interception of the trucks, which turned out to be operated by MİT, an act of “treason and espionage.” Four prosecutors who ordered the trucks to be searched and a gendarmerie officer have been arrested in connection with the interception.