Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Turkey holds military exercise near Syrian border

Source: Press TV

The Turkish army has staged tank exercises near its border with Syria days after it reinforced its border troops with tanks, missile launchers and armored combat vehicles.

According to Turkish sources, some 25 tanks took part in the exercises in the Nusaybin district of Mardin Province, just 2 kilometers away from the Syrian border, on Wednesday.

The maneuvers, conducted by the Mardin 70th Mechanized Brigade, aim at testing the tanks' speed and maneuverability.

The exercises were overseen by local commanders and are expected to continue for a couple of days.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed concerns about reports that a Kurdish group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is exerting control in the Kurdish areas of northern Syria and near the Turkish border.

Turkey has warned that it will attack PKK positions in Syria if the group launches attacks against Turkey from the Arab state. Ankara has carried out several military operations against the PKK camps in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

Turkey is accused of supplying armed groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with military and communication equipment.

Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has also set up a secret base near its border with Syria to send military supplies to anti-Syria groups.

"It's the Turks who are militarily controlling it (the base). Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom," Reuters quoted a Doha-based source as saying adding that Qatar has a key role in directing operations at the base with Qatari military intelligence and state security officials involved.

The US intelligence is also believed to be involved in the secret anti-Syria "nerve center" and that they are working through middlemen.

Syria has been the scene of violence by armed groups since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including many security forces.

Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

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