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Turkey Reinforces Syria Border as Erdogan Backs U.S. Attack
Turkey deployed tanks and anti-aircraft guns to reinforce its military units on the Syrian border, as the U.S. considers strikes against Syria.
Convoys carrying tanks and rocket-launchers headed to border areas in Hatay, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa provinces today and yesterday, according to Hurriyet newspaper and Anatolia news agency. Tanks, missile launchers and anti-aircraft guns on hilltops near the border town of Kilis were aimed Syria, state-run TRT television said. F-16s, tanker and cargo planes as well as at least one drone landed at southern Incirlik Air Base, Anatolia said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has expressed a willingness to join any international coalition against Syria, yesterday vowed to respond to any attack from its southern neighbor. He spoke after Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad was cited by the Wall Street Journal as saying that Syria will strike U.S. allies Israel, Jordan and Turkey if the Obama administration attacks his country over its alleged use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21.
“Our country is ready for such a situation,” Erdogan said, according to Hurriyet. “Is Syria ready for this? I can’t know.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is prepared to defend Turkey against a possible spillover of the civil war, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Sept. 2.
Turkey, which has sided with the rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, has a border with Syria that stretches for more than 900 kilometers (559 miles). Six Patriot missile batteries, supplied by fellow NATO members, have been stationed in the country for eight months to help defend against a missile attack from Syria.