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Middle East

Syrian industry sues Turkey over ‘looting’

A Syrian girl looks through the window of a bus where she has lived with her family for the past eight months at a refugee camp in Bab al-Salam on the Syria-Turkey border, on February 28, 2013. The United States said it would for the first time provide direct aid to Syrian rebels, but not the arms they had hoped for, as well as $60 million in extra assistance to the political opposition. AFP PHOTO/BRUNO GALLARDO

DAMASCUS: Syria’s industry body has filed a case in a European court against the Turkish government for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and looting factories in strife-torn Syria, a report said Monday.

The Syrian Chamber of Industry filed the case in an unspecified European country, and accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of backing armed gangs against the national interest of Syria, pro-regime daily Al-Watan reported.

“This is a case aimed at asserting our rights, regardless of our political opinion,” Al-Watan quoted the chamber’s president, Fares Shehabi, as saying. He said that several Syrian unions had signed on to the complaint.

“We have the necessary documents ... to prove Erdogan’s obvious involvement in sponsoring acts of banditry and terrorism.”

He said the chamber accused Erdogan of contributing to the “transfer of factory [machinery from Aleppo province in northern Syria] to Turkey,” and of “supporting armed gangs who are committing crimes against the national economy.”

In January, Syria accused Turkey of plundering factories in Aleppo, once the country’s commercial hub, and called on the United Nations to help put a stop to the theft.

“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 Syrian Foreign Ministry said then in letters sent to the U.N.

Shehabi said the legal complaint was aimed at compelling Ankara to “change its policy toward Syria” and to bring back the stolen goods.

Once allied to President Bashar Assad’s regime, Ankara broke ties with Damascus to support the revolt that erupted in March 2011.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 05, 2013, on page 8.

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