Turkish police have arrested 12 fighters from the Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra. The full details of the arrests, which spanned three cities but appeared to center around a plot in the southern city of Adana, remain unclear.
The raid in Adana netted a large amount of heavy weapons, and reports are that 2 kg of sarin nerve gas was also found, though provincial officials later said that they had only found “unidentified chemicals” and wouldn’t confirm what they were.
Though Turkey is openly backing Syria’s rebellion, the al-Qaeda-backed Nusra fighters have been suspected in past attacks in southern Turkey, with an apparent eye toward bringing Turkey more directly into the civil war.
A chemical weapons attack in a major southern Turkish city like Adana (where nearly 2 million people live) would be a huge game-changer in Turkey, and if the plot hadn’t been foiled it is entirely possible the Erdogan government would, as it has in past terror attacks, simply blame the Syrian military for the attack, virtually obligating a military response.