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Turkey’s NATO-member government said recently that the nation does not plan to go to war with Syria over the recent shooting down of a Turkish military jet by Syrian air defenses.
U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring the region, however, have detected a Turkish troop buildup along the Syrian border that is raising concerns of a regional conflict.
Large numbers of Turkish troops and military vehicles, including tanks and artillery, were spotted moving toward the border in recent days. Another sign of increased tension is the Ankara government’s declaration that 13 zones near the towns of Diyarbakir, Sirnak and Hakkari are now temporary military security zones where live-fire drills are planned from July 6 to Oct. 6.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials said Saudi Arabia recently took action to try to limit support from the kingdom to Syrian rebels, fearing the aid could be used to bolster al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists operating with rebels in Syria.
Riyadh has called for military support for the Syrian rebels and advocates armed intervention against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Several Saudi hard-line clerics launched fundraising campaigns for Syria following a May 25 massacre in the country. In response, Saudi Grand Mufti Shaykh Abd-al-Aziz Al al Shaykh issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning unofficial fundraising for Syrian rebels and decreed that all fundraising must be approved by the Saudi government. It also banned jihad, or holy war, in Syria.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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