Syria says ready for joint inquiry on Turkey attacks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2013, 2:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2013, 3:00pm

Syria is willing to carry out a joint investigation with Turkey into deadly attacks in the border town of Reyhanli that Ankara has accused Damascus of masterminding, a Syrian minister said on Tuesday.

“If the government of [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan calls for a joint, transparent investigation by the two countries, we have no objection, in order to find the truth,” Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said.

“The truth must be announced to the Syrian and Turkish people,” he was quoted as saying by state media.

The twin car bombings that rocked the town of Reyhanli on Saturday killed 51 people and wounded dozens more.

Erdogan told parliament on Tuesday that 13 people have been held by police in connection with the attacks, which are the deadliest to hit Turkey since the beginning of the uprising in neighbouring Syria in March 2011.

Turkey has blamed a radical Marxist group affiliated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the attack. Damascus has denied the allegation.

The Syrian government condemned the attacks again in a statement published by Syrian state news agency SANA on Tuesday, but accused Turkey of harbouring “terrorists.”

“These terrible crimes are the direct result of the spread of terrorism in the region. They aim to undermine relations between the Syrian and Turkish people,” the statement said.

It added that “any accusation against the Syrian state is baseless.”

Ankara has sided with the rebels fighting to topple Assad’s regime and has taken in around 400,000 refugees as well as army defectors, prompting a crisis in ties with the Syrian regime.

“It is the Turkish government which is responsible for the situation on the shared border, which has been transformed into a shelter and a passage for terrorists,” the Syrian statement said.

“The Turkish government... supports terrorists and allows them to use Turkish territory to enter Syria and carry out their crimes,” it added.