Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists — reports



Published time: May 30, 2013 16:56
Edited time: May 30, 2013 20:00

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Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, Turkish media reports. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian
Islamists detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersia
following a search by Turkish police on Wednesday, reports say.
The gas was allegedly going to be used to carry out an attack in
the southern Turkish city of Adana.

On Monday, Turkish special anti-terror forces arrested 12
suspected members of the Al-Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda affiliated
group which has been dubbed “the most aggressive and successful
arm” of the Syrian rebels. The group was designated a terrorist
organization by the United States in December.

Police also reportedly found a cache of weapons, documents and
digital data which will be reviewed by police.

Following the searches, five of those detained were released
following medical examinations at the Forensic Medicine
Institution Adana. Seven suspects remain in custody. Turkish
authorities are yet to comment on the arrests.

In a separate incident in Adana, police reportedly received
intelligence that an explosive-laden vehicle had entered the town
of Adana on Thursday, the Taraf daily reports.

Ankara has attempted to bolster the Syrian opposition without
becoming embroiled in the Syrian civil war, a policy which
Damascus claims lead to the deadliest act of terrorism on Turkish
soil.

On May 11, 51 people were killed and 140 injured after two car bombs exploded in the Turkish town of
Reyhanlı, located near the country’s border with Syria.A dozen
Turkish nationals have been charged in the twin bombings, and
Ankara has accused Damascus of helping the suspects carry out
the attack.

“This incident was carried out by an organization which is in
close contact to pro-regime groups in Syria and I say this very
clearly, with the Syrian Mukhabarat [intelligence agency],”

Interior Minister Muammer Guler said.

Syria’s Information Minister Omran Zoubi denied any link the
attack, saying his country “did not commit and would never commit
such an act because our values would not allow that”.Zoubi
further charged the Turkish government had facilitated the flow
of arms, explosives, funds and fighters across the country’s
border into Syria, claiming that that Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party bear direct responsibility
[for the attack].”

Reports of chemical weapons use by both Damascus and the Syrian
opposition have surrounded the conflict in Syria for months.

In March, the Syrian government invited the United Nations to
investigate possible chemical weapons use in the Khan al-Assal
area of rural Aleppo. Military experts and officials said a
chemical agent, most likely sarin, was used in the attack which
killed 26 people, including government forces.

Damascus claimed Al-Qaeda linked fighters were behind the attack, further alleging Turkey had a
hand in the incident.

“The rocket came from a placed controlled by the terrorist and
which is located close to the Turkish territory. One can assume
that the weapon came from Turkey,”
Zoabi said in an interview
with Interfax news agency.

US President Barack Obama has warned any confirmed use of chemical weapons by
Damascus would cross a “red line” which would prompt
further action. Both Washington and London claimed there was
growing evidence that such chemical agents had been used.

A day before the Reyhanlı bombing, Erdogan released a statement
claiming he had evidence the Syrian government had had used
chemical weapons, crossing the red line set by President
Obama.The accusation contradicted a statement made at the time by
a leading UN investigator.Carla Del Ponte, who heads

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria,
said there were “concrete suspicions but not yet
incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas”
in Syria.

“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not
by the government authorities,”
Del Ponte continued.

Exposure to large quantities of sarin gas, whose production and
stockpiling was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of
1993, causes convulsions, paralysis, loss of respiratory
functions and potentially death.

This article originally appeared on: RT