Turkish military convoys deploy at Syrian
Turkey sent a convoy of about 20 vehicles carrying
troops, missile batteries and armoured vehicles to
the border with Syria on Monday
July 30, 2012
. Photo: AFP
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KILIS, The Kurdish
region of Turkey, — Turkey sent at least four
convoys of vehicles carrying troops and missile
batteries to the border with Syrian Kurdistan on
Monday amid growing concern in Turkey about security
on its southern frontier, witnesses and news reports
It was the latest in a series of deployments in the
region in recent weeks. There is no indication that
Turkish forces will cross the border, and the troop
movements may be strictly precautionary in the face
of spiralling violence in Syria.
Two separate convoys of about 30 vehicles left a
base in Gaziantep province to head south to Kilis
and were now stationed along a fenced-off section on
the border with Syria, witnesses said.
"This is part of a training exercise," said a
high-ranking officer in a second convoy of nine
vehicles with armoured personnel carriers, tanks and
other military vehicles.
A second officer in the same convoy said the troops
would remain on the Turkish side of the border.
The state-run Anatolian news agency said ammunition
and military vehicles were brought by rail to the
town of Islahiye in Gaziantep from the Mediterranean
port of Iskenderun.
In a fourth troop movement, military vehicles,
including tanks, were moved to Akcakale in Sanliurfa
province, further east from Kilis and Gaziantep, and
were now stationed at the Syrian border, Anatolian
Turkey, a member of NATO, has conducted in recent
months a number of troop deployments along its
911-km (566 mile) border with Syria, which is in the
throes of an insurgency seeking to topple President
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, a former Assad ally,
is now among his most vocal critics, calling for him
to step down from power amid the 16-month uprising
that has killed thousands of Syrian civilians.
Tensions between the neighbours hit a peak on June
22, when Syrian forces shot down a Turkish military
reconnaissance aircraft, killing two pilots.
Kilis houses a major refugee centre for Syrians
fleeing the violence at home. About 44,000 refugees
are in Turkey.
Erdogan last week warned the Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK), an armed militant group that has launched
attacks inside Turkey, against setting up camps
inside Syrian Kurdistan,www.ekurd.net
(western Kurdistan) in northern Syria.
That area, which has a large Kurdish population, has
been spared much of the violence seen elsewhere in
Syria, but Turkey is worried the PKK could exert
influence there amid a power vacuum and threaten
Turkish security at the border.
The PKK has several times proposed peaceful solutions regarding Kurdish problem,
Turkey has always refused saying that it will not negotiate with “terrorists”.
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state,
which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish
state in the south east of the country.
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights
for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more
than 20 million.
A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK
The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional
self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in
Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey,
reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action
against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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