Turkey strengthens air defence at Syrian border (VIDEO)
28 Jun, 2012 08:42
Turkish officials have confirmed deploying anti-aircraft batteries in the area close to the border with Syria. This is the reply to Syria downing a Turkish reconnaissance aircraft in country’s territorial waters and the shooting at another plane.
Turkish state TV reports 30 military trucks, including air-defense systems in Hatay province bordering Syria.Turkish state-run Anatolia news agency has reported armored vehicles have also been advancing to Sanliurfa, a province that protrudes into Syrian territory. The agency insists military garrisons along the Turkish-Syrian border are been beefed up with additional personnel.The incident that downed a Turkish aircraft has put relations between Ankara and Damascus on a knife edge. Turkey insist its fighter jet entered Syrian aerospace by mistake and only briefly, refusing to accept it was shoot down over Syrian territorial waters. Syria insists it has violated nothing and presented part of aircraft’s tail pierced with anti-aircraft shells.Reportedly, the Turkish aircraft could have been taken down by an anti-aircraft gun system. Such systems have a range limited to a few kilometers. If this information is correct, Turkish claims about the plane been downed outside Syria’s 12 miles (22 kilometers) territorial waters are questionable.Ankara warned Damascus to keep its troops out of the border regions to avoid confrontation. On Wednesday Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi said that probably Syrian air defense have mistaken the Turkish plane for an Israeli one. Both Turkey and Israel use American made fighter jets. The Minister said Damascus does "not want a crisis between Turkey and Syria."Jeremy Salt, professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Turkey, told RT that another incident between the two countries could trigger hostilities. “Another incident like this could trigger off a collision between the two countries,” he said. “We have Turkish troops right at the border, we have Syrian troops very close to the border on the other side, and something else like this, another downplay, another shot across the border, will set these two countries against each other.”Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict 16 months ago Ankara has repeatedly called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. Turkey claims it is looking after up to 33,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the fighting between government troops and the opposition Free Syrian Army.It is also alleged Turkey is a haven for members of the Syrian armed opposition. The militants are reportedly using Turkish territory to regroup and be armed by CIA officers who are present at Turkish-Syrian border. It’s alleged the officers are collecting intelligence data and distributing firearms to those groups of Syrian rebels they consider “clean”, by not having links with terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda.