Tue Mar 1, 2016 1:30PM
In this file photo, a foreign-backed militant takes cover during clashes with the Syrian army in Azaz, northwestern Syria. ©AP
In this file photo, a foreign-backed militant takes cover during clashes with the Syrian army in Azaz, northwestern Syria. ©AP

Russia’s foreign minister has called for the closure of the Turkish border with Syria, saying the region is used to smuggle weapons into the Arab country to supply terror groups operating in Syria.

Sergei Lavrov told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday that some of the smuggled arms are hidden in humanitarian aid cargo.

"A very special task is to cut the terrorists' supply from the outside. For this purpose it is important to close the Syrian-Turkish border, since across this border those gangs receive arms, including with humanitarian convoys," he noted.

Lavrov further described a landslide defeat of the Daesh Takfiri terror group, the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and those of their kind as "a necessary precondition for securing the rights of long-suffering peoples of Syria" and the rest of the region.

Turkey has been among the main supporters of the militant groups operating in Syria, with reports saying that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri terrorists there and facilitates their safe passage into the crisis-hit Arab state.

Ankara has also been accused on numerous occasions of being involved in illegal oil trade with the Daesh. Russia has released pictures and videos purportedly showing the movement of oil tankers from Daesh-controlled areas in Syria toward Turkey.

On February 28, the Russian ceasefire monitoring center in Syria said it was verifying reports that an attack on the Kurdish town of Tal Abyad in Syria was carried out by militants coming from Turkey.

Daesh militants launched an assault to capture Tal Abyad and Suluk early on February 27, an official of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Redur Xelil, said, adding that the towns were attacked from two sides with some terrorists progressing from across the Turkish border and some others from the south.

On February 16, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov also announced that terrorists active in Syria’s volatile northwestern region receive arms smuggled through the Turkish border during night.

Back in May 2015, the center-left Turkish daily Cumhuriyet posted on its website footage showing trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, also known as the MIT, allegedly carrying weapons for militant groups in Syria. The Cumhuriyet video also purportedly showed trucks of the MIT being inspected by security officers.

A still image grabbed from a video published on the website of the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily on May 29, 2015 shows mortar shells in boxes intercepted on a truck reportedly destined for Syria.

The daily reported that the trucks were carrying some 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons.

The Turkish government denied the allegations, saying the trucks had been carrying humanitarian aid to Syria.