BEIRUT

Middle East

Syria says Turkey involved in looting northern factories

  • Boys walk past a car damaged by shelling in the al-Mashhad district of Aleppo January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Zain Karam

DAMASCUS: Syrian on Thursday accused neighbouring Turkey of involvement in looting factories in the industrial city of Aleppo, in letters sent to UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council that also urged swift action.

"Some 1,000 factories in the city of Aleppo have been plundered, and their stolen goods transferred to Turkey with the full knowledge and facilitation of the Turkish government," the foreign ministry said in the letters.

"It is an illegal act of aggression that amounts to piracy. It is an act of aggression against the Syrian people's livelihood," the ministry added.

The ministry charged that Turkey, which backs the armed rebellion against the Damascus government, "is supporting terrorism while providing the conditions to help plunder Syria's riches.

"This requires a reaction by the UN Security Council," the ministry said.

Turkey's alleged actions "contribute directly to cross-border crime and piracy, which require an international reaction," it said.

The ministry also called on Turkey to "return the (looted) property to its owners, and pay compensation to those affected."

On Tuesday the head of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Industry, Fares Shihabi, wrote the foreign ministry accusing "armed groups" -- the term used by the government to describe the rebels -- of having stolen machinery, equipment, vehicles, cranes and raw materials from the northern city of Aleppo.

Shihabi said that these groups smuggled the stolen goods into Turkey across Syria's porous northern border via rebel-controlled crossings.

He also urged the Syrian authorities to press the UN to investigate the "plight of Syrian industrialists."

Aleppo, Syria's second city and commercial hub, is home to some 30,000 factories that were churning out everything from soap to textile before the uprising launched against the regime in March 2011.

But much of the industry has ground to a halt as the city and surrounding areas have been engulfed in violence since a major rebel onslaught in July last year.SsfS

 
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