London, July 30: An investigation has revealed that countries in East Europe have approved secret sale of weapons worth over 1 billion Euro to Middle Eastern countries that ship arms to Syria---in the last four years---the Guardian has reported.
The illegally traded weapons include thousands of assault rifles like AK-47, mortar shells, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons and heavy machine guns and they are being taken to the Middle Eastern countries bordering war-ravaged Syria via a new arms pipeline from the Balkans, the report said.
The Guardian report said much of the weapons and ammunition are being sent to Syria fuelling the five-year civil war there, according to investigative reporters in Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Weapons sent from 8 countries
The year-long investigation which took into account several aspects like UN reports, plane tracking and weapons contracts revealed that the weaponry was being sent from countries like Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech republic, Montenegro, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania and Croatia, the Guardian said.
It said eight nations approved the weapons and ammunitions worth the whopping amount to four Middle Eastern countries of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and the UAE since the escalation of the conflict in Syria in 2012. They are the key arm markets for violence-hit countries like Syria and Yemen.
While refugee route has been shut, arms trade flourish
"...over the past two years, as thousands of tonnes of weapons fly south, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled north from the conflicts that have killed more than 400,000 people. But while Balkan and European countries have shut down the refugee route, the billion-euro pipeline sending arms by plane and ship to the Middle East remains open - and very lucrative," said the BIRN report.
The report further said that while the region had zero instances of buying from central and eastern Europe, it now looks that the purchase is escalating and some of biggest deals have been settled in 2015.