backs al-Qaeda in Syria: Former US envoy

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-A former US ambassador to Ankara has accused Turkey of directly supporting al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities in Syria.

Francis Ricciardone, who was the US envoy to Ankara until late June, said the Turkish authorities thought they could work with extremist groups operating inside Syria and at the same time push them to become more moderate.

Ricciardone further noted that he tried to convince the Turkish government to close its borders to the groups, but of no avail.

From the start of the crisis in Syria over three years ago, Turkey allowed its borders to be used as a conduit for aid, weapons and militants heading to the Arab country.

Washington itself has been also one of the strong supporters of militancy in the region through funding and supporting militant groups.

Damascus has repeatedly said the US and its regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — have been providing the militants with funding, weapons and military trainings.

Reports have also shown that the US Central Intelligence Agency has been covertly training the foreign-sponsored Syria militants in neighboring Jordan.

American officials said on September 10 that Saudi Arabia has agreed to a request from the US administration to provide bases to train militants fighting against the Syrian government.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since March 2011. More than 191,000 people have been killed in over three years of fighting in Syria, says the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), calling the figure a probable “underestimate of the real total number of people killed.”

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