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Russia urges closure of Turkey-Syria border

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin (photo by AFP)

Russia has called for the closure of the Turkish-Syrian border to prevent the flow of Takfiri militants and weapons supplies into the Arab country.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said during a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on countering terrorism on Thursday that UNSC members should impose a complete trade embargo on Takfiri Daesh terrorists, al-Qeda’s Syria branch of al-Nusra front, and other militant groups operating across Syria.

He also referred to the smuggling of Syrian oil and ancient artifacts by militants and said concrete steps are needed to stop such trafficking.

The Russian official accused Turkey of “complacency or inaction” in allowing weapons and militants to cross into Syria via Turkish soil.

Churkin urged the Ankara government to invite, “on a voluntary basis,” international observers to visit its border with Syria. “If Turkey feels that it is doing everything necessary to curtail the flows of supplies to terrorists, this could be corroborated by independent monitors.”

Turkey’s UN Mission has rejected the remarks by Russian official as “baseless.”

This file photo shows militants with the al-Nusra Front terrorist group.

Churkin had in a recent letter to the 15-member council pointed out that millions of dollars worth of industrial chemicals and explosives were smuggled across Turkey’s border to extremist groups in recent years.

In December last year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow and Washington had agreed that the Turkish border with Syria and Iraq must be closed as a key measure in fighting against the Daesh terrorist group.

Moscow says it has evidence indicating the complicity of Ankara in the smuggling of oil from territories held by Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

Ankara has repeatedly been accused of being one of the main supporters of the militant groups operating in Syria amid reports that it actively trains and arms the Takfiri militants there and facilitates their safe passage into the Arab country.

Turkish opposition daily Cumhuriyet published videos in June 2015 purportedly implicating the Turkish Intelligence Service, also known as the MIT, in ensuring safe passage into Syria for Daesh.

Damascus has long been saying that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are funding and arming anti-Syria terrorist groups, including Daesh.

Elsewhere in his Thursday remarks, Churkin told the UNSC that militants from Daesh and several other extremist groups have used “toxic poisonous substances” and mustard gas in Dayr al-Zawr and other Syrian cities.

A young man receives treatment at a hospital following a Daesh chemical attack in the Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood of Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo, April 7, 2016.

On Wednesday, China and Russia introduced a draft UN resolution aimed at preventing terrorists from preparing or using chemical weapons in Syria. The draft resolution would require Syria’s neighbors Turkey and Iraq to immediately report to the UNSC any actions by extremist groups to develop, acquire or transfer chemical weapons.

A report by the Syrian-American Medical Society has said Daesh has carried out more than 160 attacks involving “poisonous or asphyxiating agents, such as sarin, chlorine, and mustard gas” since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011. At least 1,491 people have been killed in the chemical attacks.

In the most recent incident, nearly two dozen people were killed and over 100 others injured on April 7 in a chemical attack by Daesh terrorists against members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in a neighborhood of the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Figures show that more than 30,000 people from across the world have traveled to Syria and Iraq over the past four years to fight along the Takfiri groups in the region.

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