Turkey's MIT trucks stopped to 'beat down' Syria's Turkmen, says commander

ANADOLU AGENCY
ANKARA
Published 05.06.2015 14:58

The controversial stop-and-search of Turkish intelligence agency trucks en route to Syria in January 2014 was orchestrated by "parallel state" in order to "beat down" Turkmen in the war-torn country, a Turkmen militia commander has said.

"Treacherous forces, working with the [Bashar al-] Assad regime, did this so Turkmen would be beaten down and left in a difficult situation," Commander Ömer Abdullah of the Sultan Abdulhamid Han Brigade in Syria told an Anadolu Agency correspondent on Thursday.

He added that they were stopped because the 'parallel state' did not want Turkmen to become stronger in the region.

The 'parallel state' or 'parallel structure' refers to a purported group of Turkish bureaucrats and senior officials embedded in the country's institutions, including the judiciary and police, who are allegedly trying to undermine the elected Turkish government, according to the government.

Turkmen mostly live in the town of Bayirbucak in the northern Latakia province of western Syria bordering Turkey. Turkmen in the region are often attacked by the Syrian regime.

Commander of the Brigade of Turkmen Mountain, Albay Ebul Fadıl, told Anadolu Agency that Bayirbucak had strategic importance and that "everyone's eyes lay on the land".

"Everyday we are bombed, while mosques, homes, schools have been razed," he said, adding that the Turkmen's "last stronghold in Syria" was Bayirbucak.

"If it wasn't for Turkey's aid, at least 80 percent of Turkmen would have died," Fadıl said, as the Syrian regime - as well as Daesh-have been trying to take the region.

The trucks were stopped by paramilitary gendarmes searching for arms in southern Adana and Hatay provinces despite a national security law forbidding such searches.

At the time, Turkey's Interior Ministry denied the trucks had been carrying weaponry and said they were taking humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in Syria.

Turkey's Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors ruled on Thursday that the five public prosecutors - former chief prosecutor Süleyman Bağrıyanık and prosecutors Ahmet Karaca, Aziz Takçı, Özcan Şişman and Yaşar Kavalcıoğlu-face legal action over the searches.

Provincial gendarmerie commander Özkan Çokay and district commanders Erdal Yılmaz and Kubilay Ayvaz also face prosecution.

Mehmet Yılmaz, the head of the board's second department, said the cases would be passed to prosecutors in the southern provinces to prepare an indictment in the coming week.

"When condoning illicitness and illegal acts, we all have seen what happened in the recent past, like Ergenekon, Sledgehammer and espionage cases," Yılmaz said, referring to alleged attempts to overthrow the current government.

The prosecutors would be tried at Ankara's Court of Cassation in the event of a trial, Yılmaz added.

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