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Russia Says Arms Coming Into Syria From Turkey

  • Associated Press

FILE - Rebel fighters are seen positioning themselves in Ghazila village in the southern countryside of Hasaka, Syria, Feb. 17, 2016.

FILE - Rebel fighters are seen positioning themselves in Ghazila village in the southern countryside of Hasaka, Syria, Feb. 17, 2016.

Russia's foreign minister says convoys entering war-torn Syria from neighboring Turkey have supplied rebel groups with weapons and is calling for the closure of the border.

In Geneva on Tuesday, Sergei Lavrov told the U.N. Human Rights Council that “gangs have received arms across this border, including from humanitarian convoys.” Russia, an ally of Syria's president, has had tense ties with Turkey in recent months.

Earlier, he told the conference on disarmament that information showed “terrorist groups,” have the technical specifications and facilities needed to make chemical weapons, and have hired specialists with knowledge of how to create chemical weapons.

Russia and the United States last week pushed through a “cessation of hostilities” accord in Syria. Officials say it has largely eased the violence since taking effect Saturday.

Russia's Defense Ministry says the ongoing cease-fire in Syria has been violated 15 times in the past 24 hours.

The ministry said in a statement Tuesday that most of the violations were recorded around Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Latakia.

The Russians blamed the shelling on the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syrian branch. Both extremist groups have been left out of the current cease-fire, and the ministry statement said they have been attacking government positions and residential areas from territory controlled by the Syrian opposition.

The cease-fire in Syrian began at midnight Friday and has brought a notable reduction in hostilities for the first time in the five-year war that has killed more than 250,000 people, displaced half of Syria's population and flooded Europe with refugees.

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