CHEMICAL REBELS: Al-Nusra rebel fighters detained in TURKEY after found in possession of SARIN GAS
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.
Russia reacted strongly to the incident, calling for a thorough investigation into the detention of Syrian militants in possession of sarin gas.
"We are extremely concerned with media reports. Russia believes that the use of any chemical weapons is absolutely inadmissible," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.
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.