Ankara sends military reinforcement to southern border with Syria

Turkey's state-run news agency says the military has sent reinforcements to a border region close to a Syrian-Kurdish stronghold
Thursday, 30 November 2017 23:22

Anadolu Agency said paramilitary forces escorted a convoy of trucks carrying howitzers and armoured personnel carriers to the border town of Kilis on Thursday.

The military build-up comes amid warnings by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials that Turkey may intervene a Syrian Kurdish group in Syria's Afrin region, north of Idlib, that Turkey considers to be a security threat.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said during a meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan on Thursday: "If there is a threat against Turkey from Afrin or from any other region, we would enter these places without hesitation."

Turkish government considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) controlling Afrin a terrorist organisation linked to the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) banned in the country.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said Thursday that Ankara is discussing with Russia, the United States and Iran a possible operation of the country's armed forces in Syria's Afrin, but it is too early to say anything specific on this issue.

"For Turkey, Afrin is important from the viewpoint that there are terrorists there who threaten our national security. We are holding talks with the United States, Russia and Iran on the issue. What steps will be taken in this direction will be clear in the coming days," Bozdag told the Anadolu news agency when asked about a possible military operation in Afrin.

On November 28, a written statement had been made after the critical National Security Council (MGK) meeting under the presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the statement, it was said, "It has been scrutinized that the elements of the Turkish Armed Forces have successfully maintained 'the observation mission' in Idlib region to defuse tension, and the environment of confidence and peacefulness would be provided through the fulfillment of this mission in the vicinity of Syria’s Western Aleppo and Afrin".

On the same day, the Turkish General Staff said that - YPG militants sprayed a Turkish border post with gunfire, wounding one soldier, and Turkey responded with artillery fire. The gunfire came from Afrin province in northwest Syria, it added.