CNN: Turkish Army To Hold Military Exercises Near Syrian Border
As relations continue to deteriorate between neighbors Turkey and Syria, the Turkish armed forces announced Tuesday it will conduct a weeklong series of military exercises in a province along the Syrian border.
The objectives of the Yildirim (“lightning bolt”) exercise include establishing coordination between military and civilian institutions and “testing of mutual activities performed during mobilization and war times,” according to a statement on the Turkish Armed Forces website.
Some Middle East experts immediately interpreted the announcement as a warning to Damascus.
“Turkey is sending a signal to Syria,” said Lale Kemal, a defense expert and Ankara bureau chief with the Turkish newspaper Taraf.
“The irony is that it was only a few years ago as part of improved relations that Turkey and Syria started joint border maneuvers.”
Over the last decade, once frosty ties between Ankara and Damascus dramatically improved. The two countries signed a free trade agreement, held joint Cabinet meetings and removed visa requirements from each others’ citizens.
But Turkey has watched the Syrian government’s bloody crackdown on the country’s six-month-old protest movement with growing concern.
Erdogan also endorsed the recently-vetoed resolution that would have condemned the Syrian abuse. This puts Turkey in an interesting bind, considering that he hasn’t been particularly warm to Israel as of late.