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Friday, August 5, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Report: Turkey captures Iran arms shipment
to Syria

LONDON — Turkey is said to have seized Iranian weapons destined for Syria.


A German daily reported that Turkish security forces captured an Iranian arms shipment meant for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Munich-based Suddeutsche Zeitung quoted diplomatic sources as describing the weapons, intercepted on April 30, as destined for the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, Middle East Newsline reported.

"According to Western diplomatic sources, several trucks with suspicious cargo deliveries, which carried documents, were stopped in Kilis in April along the border between Turkey and Syria," Suddeutsche said. "This statement suggests that the Turkish authorities had been informed by foreign intelligence on suspicious shipments."

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The Turkish seizure, at least the second in 2011, was said to have taken place in the southern city of Kilis near the Syrian border. The diplomats said the shipment contained a large amount of weapons and ammunition.

Ankara has not confirmed the latest seizure. In March, Turkey reported to the United Nations the capture of an Iranian air transport that contained weapons for Syria. The Ankara government reported Iranian 1,800 mortar shells, 60 AK-47 assault rifles and 14 machine guns.

Both the European Union and the United States have pressed Turkey to stop Iranian weapons shipments to either the Assad regime or Hizbullah. The British parliament issued a report on Aug. 1 that said Turkey must enhance border security before being granted membership in the EU.

"The report underestimates concrete progress our country has made in [the process of] EU harmonization in justice and internal affairs, as well as measures it has taken against irregular migration," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Aug. 2. "The report also fails to give a fair account of our constructive cooperation in a way that it could cause misunderstandings and concerns over our EU accession bid."

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