Middle East

Turkish army stages military drill near Syria border: report

Turkish soldiers in a military vehicle patrol in front of the town of Haram in northern Syria on the Turkish-Syrian border near the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, southern Turkey October 18, 2012. (REUTERS/Osman Orsal)

ANKARA: Turkey's army on Thursday staged a new military drill near its border with Syria, amid heightened tensions between the two neighboring countries, Anatolia news agency reported.

The exercise in Suruc near Sanliurfa province in the southeast, which is only 10 kilometres (six miles) from the Syrian frontier, involved mostly tanks, said Anatolia, adding that it could be seen from the Syrian side of the border.

Ankara has in recent months staged a number of military drills along its border with Syria, including one in August.

The one in August involved Turkish tanks accompanied by armoured personnel carriers and tactical missile-launching platforms deployed at the Oncupinar crossing in southern Kilis province.

The former allies fell out after Turkey joined Arab and Western countries in urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt his violent crackdown of the popular uprising that erupted in March last year and has now turned into a civil war.

But Ankara has taken an increasingly strident line towards its southern neighbour since a mortar bomb fired from the Syrian side of the border killed five Turkish civilians on October 3.

Since then Turkey has retaliated on each occassion that its border with Syria has been violated by mortar bombs from across the frontier.

On Wednesday the Turkish army retaliated after a mortar bomb landed on the bank of the Orontes River, which flows through both countries, in Hatay province, but caused no casualties.





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