Turkey stops Iranian trucks carrying arms to Syria, report says
Dogan news agency cites Turkish official as saying that vehicles detected at the Oncupinar border crossing into Syria following a tip police received by police.
Turkish customs officials intercepted four trucks on Tuesday suspected of carrying military equipment from Iran to Syria, a Turkish provincial governor said.
The governor of Kilis province said the trucks were confiscated at the Oncupinar border crossing into Syria after police received information about their cargo, according to Dogan news agency.
"The four trucks were confiscated by customs. They are alleged to be carrying military equipment," Governor Yusuf Odabas said. He said experts were being sent from Ankara to examine the cargo.
Turkey imposed economic sanctions on President Bashar Assad's government in November, having earlier implemented an arms embargo in protest at Assad's violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets in March.
Turkey abandoned its past friendship with Assad to side with protesters, and has set up camps on its southeast border to host thousands of refugees who have fled the violence in their homeland.
Syria has also been suspended from the Arab League, leaving Damascus with few friends outside of Tehran.
Iran's support for Assad reflects sectarian ties, as Assad's minority Alawite sect has links with the Shi'ite Islam followed in Iran. Most of Turkey's Muslims, like the majority of Syrians, are Sunni.
Earleir Tuesday, referring to the danger posed to the Syrian Alawaite minority amid tensions in Syria, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said hat Israel is preparing to absorb Alawite refugees once Assad's regime collapses, which he expects to happen in the coming months.
Speaking at a Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs committee meeting, Gantz said Assad's turmoil could cause him to seek a military confrontation with Israel."
Assad cannot continue holding on to power and his downfall is expected to cause a crack in the radical axis," Gantz said.
"Assad and the Syrian regime may have a hard time acting against us in the short-term, but we also need to take into account that Syria has advanced weapons systems. They have advanced Russian arms such as Yakhont missiles."