Syria: Turkey flexes muscle, amasses tanks on the borders

Turkish F16 wards off helicopter, crisis with Moscow over plane

12 October, 19:41

A truck carry a Turkish tank to the Turkish-Syrian border in Gaziantep A truck carry a Turkish tank to the Turkish-Syrian border in Gaziantep

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA - Turkey repeats that it does not want to go to war with Syria, but continues to prepare as though it is about to, amassing troops and weapons on its borders. About 250 Turkish tanks are lined up along the border, along with 70 fighter-bombers - transferred to the border base of Diyarbakir - and anti-missile NATO ''shield'' radar at Kurucek, according to Turkish press reports. The tension, in short, is very high.

Today a Turkish F16 lifted off from Diyarbakir to distance a Damascus military helicopter from the zone of the Syrian village of Azmarin - theater of clashes between Sunni rebels and government forces.

Verbal conflict also continued to mount Friday between Turkey, Syria and Russia over a commercial flight from Moscow to Damascus intercepted Wednesday by Turkish fighter planes, generating new, dangerous sparks between the two Mediterranean neighbors. Turkey's Islamic nationalist premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday defended the airplane blitz - considered an ''act of piracy'' by Syria - maintaining that there were ''munitions'' and Russian military ''equipment'' on board. Damascus accused him of ''lying'' and challenged him to ''show'' the presumed weapons to ''prove what you say''. Russia also denied Turkey's claims. (ANSAmed).

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