Two days ago, the Turkish army began a ten day drill at a base near its borders with Syria in light of growing fears over the spreading violence.
According to a statement issued by the Turkish General of Staff, the drill is being carried at the “Incirlik” Air Base near the city of Adana where US troops are also based, and will test the readiness of the army for combat.
It also added, “The drill will also test the joint operations that will be carried out by the ministries, public institutions, and armed forces in the event of mobilisation or conflict.” The Turkish army described the drill being held in the Adana region, which is located about 100 km from the Syrian border, as “pre-planned” but was announced only hours after the Israeli airstrike on Damascus.
Moreover, during a parliamentary meeting with JDP representatives in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced that the Israeli air strike on Damascus was unacceptable and that there is “no rationale, no pretext that can excuse this operation.” He considered them an opportunity for Al-Assad to cover up “the murders committed by the Syrian regime.”
In reference to accusations by the opposition that Syrian forces killed around 60 people in the village of Al-Bayda near Baniyas last week, Erdogan added, “These attacks are chances, opportunities offered on a golden tray to Al-Assad and to the illegitimate Syrian regime. Using the Israel attack as an excuse, he is trying to cover up the genocide in Baniyas.” He also reiterated his criticism of the international community, especially the UN, for its failure to take action regarding the Syrian crisis, urging the Security Council to take measures to stop “the massacres committed by the Syrian regime against civilians.”
Erdogan also attacked Al-Assad last Sunday describing him as “a butcher” and warned him that he “will be held to account for the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians.”