Turkish army stages tank exercises near
August 2, 2012
The Turkish army stage a drill in Nusaybin province
in Turkey's Kurdish region which neighbors Syria’s
Kurdish city of Qamishli (Syrian Kurdistan). Photo:
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ISTANBUL,— Turkey's army staged tank
exercises near the Syrian border on Wednesday,
Turkish officials said, in a move highlighting
Ankara's unease about security on the frontier,
The exercises were held after a series of Turkish
military deployments to the area prompted by the
spiralling violence in the 17-month uprising against
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There is no
indication Turkish forces will cross the border.
About 25 tanks took part in the exercises in the
Nusaybin district of Mardin province in the Kurdish
region on southeastern Turkey, just 2 km (1 mile)
from the Syrian border, state-run Anatolian news
agency said, quoting Mardin's governor as saying
they would last several days.
Nusaybin district official Murat Girgin, contacted
by telephone, confirmed military exercises were
underway in the area. He declined to elaborate.
The manoeuvres, overseen by local commanders, were
conducted by the Mardin 70th Mechanised Brigade,
Dogan news agency said.
The Syrian Kurdish city of Qamishli is immediately
across the border from Nusaybin. Ankara is concerned
about reports that a Kurdish group linked to
militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is
exerting control in Kurdish areas of northern Syria.
NATO-member Turkey has warned any attack emanating
from a PKK presence in Syrian Kurdistan (northern
Syria) could give it reason to intervene. Ankara has
repeatedly bombed and sent troops into
semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq's north
where the PKK has camps.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu raised the
issue of the Syrian government's loss of control
over territory with Massoud Barzani, president of
Iraq's Kurdistan government,www.ekurd.net
on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement.
"Any attempt to exploit the power vacuum by any
violent group or organisation will be considered as
a common threat, which should be jointly addressed.
The new Syria should be free of any terrorist and
extremist group or organisation."
Ankara has often pressured northern Iraq's Kurdish
rulers to take steps against the PKK.
The Syrian conflict was set to feature highly in the
four-day meeting of Turkey's Supreme Military
Council, which started on Wednesday. The council,
chaired by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and
bringing together senior commanders, meets twice
yearly to discuss army promotions, retirements and
The military manoeuvres coincided with intense
clashes between the military and the PKK further
east around the town of Semdinli, on the mountainous
border with Iraq and Iran. Media reports said up to
40 PKK militants had been killed in fighting there
over the past week.
In a separate clash in Diyarbakir province (Northern
Kurdistan), two Turkish soldiers were killed in a
firefight with PKK fighters on Wednesday near the
town of Lice, security sources said.
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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