Canadian-made assault rifle turns up in hands of terrorists as Turkey warns of weapons being diverted

Canadian-made assault rifle turns up in hands of terrorists as Turkey warns of weapons being diverted

Turkish forces released this photo of a North Eastern Arms rifle captured during a battle with PKK terrorists in Turkey. TURKISH ARMED FORCES

Turkey has warned Canada about the risks of supplying weapons to various groups in Iraq after its commandos seized an Ontario-made assault rifle during a raid on a terrorist stronghold and amid reports that other Canadian-built guns are turning up for sale on the Iraqi black market.

Turkey has warned Canada about the risks of supplying weapons to various groups in Iraq after its commandos seized an Ontario-made assault rifle during a raid on a terrorist stronghold and amid reports that other Canadian-built guns are turning up for sale on the Iraqi black market.

Turkish commandos killed seven members of the terrorist group PKK during fighting in a mountainous region of the country in late April. Among equipment seized was a NEA-15 assault rifle, made by North Eastern Arms of Ontario, Turkish officials have said.

It is unclear how the weapon found its way into the hands of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Canada, the U.S. and other NATO countries.

But in 2016 the Armament Research Services, which provides analysis on weapons for governments and the private sector, reported that Kurdish Peshmerga and personal security detachments within the Iraqi Special Operations Force 1 Brigade were being armed with rifles produced by North Eastern Arms. On its Facebook page, North Eastern Arms has highlighted  trips by company officials to Iraq and Kurdistan.

Selcuk Unal, Turkey’s ambassador to Canada, told Postmedia News that his country has consistently been warning all its allies, including Canada, about the risks of supplying weapons to various groups in Iraq and Syria. Turkey has also “repeatedly expressed concern for these weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIL and PKK,” he added. “We always relay our concerns and will continue to do so.”

Turkish media outlets have reported that North Eastern Arms rifles are also being sold on the black market in Iraq.

A North Eastern Arms official told Postmedia News that the export of the company’s firearms to Iraq had been approved by the federal government. No further details were provided.

The NEA-15 is based on the popular U.S. AR-15 rifle, with variants used by both civilian and military shooters. NEA-15s sell for between $1,100 and $1,300 each. North Eastern Arms produces small arms for the civilian market as well as military and law enforcement agencies.

John Babcock, a Global Affairs Canada spokesman, said the government conducted an investigation after reports indicated weapons “may have been diverted from their intended end-use.

Turkish army tanks gather close to the Syrian border on January 21, 2018 at Hassa, in Hatay province.

Canada directly engaged relevant Iraqi authorities to convey our serious concerns,” Babcock explained in an email. “In response, Canada received additional, strict, end-use assurances. Canada also received confirmation that the end-user would take additional measures to track inventory to mitigate further risk of diversion of weapons that had previously been exported.”

Ken Epps, who advises the Project Ploughshares research organization on the arms trade, said the Canadian government’s 2016 report on military exports, noted more than one thousand rifles were shipped to Iraq from Canada. The government’s export report also pointed out “the possibility of unauthorized transfer or diversion of the exported goods and technology [is] actively considered” in deliberations on whether arms exports are allowed to proceed, Epps said.

Canada directly engaged relevant Iraqi authorities to convey our serious concerns

“Yet, if reports of Canadian-sourced rifles appearing on the Iraqi black market prove true, then clearly Global Affairs Canada has failed to adequately consider the diversion risks in this case,” he explained. “Moreover, the Arms Trade Treaty which Canada will soon join obligates states parties to tackle weapons diversion and it would appear that Canada needs to up its game to meet this obligation.”

In early 2016, Germany halted shipments of weapons to Kurdish forces after it emerged that some of the guns previously supplied to the Kurds had turned up on the black market.

Ottawa launched an initiative in 2016 to outfit Kurdish forces with small arms as well as anti-tank weapons and mortars, stating the equipment was needed for the war against the ISIL terrorist group. That plan, however, was put on hold last year in the aftermath of fighting between Kurdish and Iraqi forces.

Department of National Defence spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said the weapons are still in storage in at a Canadian Forces supply depot in Montreal and will remain there until further notice.

Turkey is also worried that weapons supplied to Kurds in Iraq could find their way into Syria. In addition, Unal said Turkey is concerned that some NATO allies have provided different groups in northern Syria with more than 5,000 truckloads of advanced weaponry including anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

https://edmontonjournal.com/news/canadian-made-assault-rifle-turns-up-in-hands-of-terrorists-as-turkey-warns-of-weapons-being-diverted/wcm/1628be2c-7a6a-467c-977f-6e00009cb7d2

 

 

 

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