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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Istanbul last month as part of efforts to coordinate Syria policy with Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition and acts as a conduit for supplies to anti-Assad groups. Senior diplomatic, military and intelligence officials from both sides met last week to go over detailed operational plans for “the full range of contingencies,” according to the State Department.

Turkey and its allies are averse to intervening in Syria because of fears it could ignite a wider conflict, although Turkish government rhetoric against Syria has been among the harshest, notably after the deaths of two Turkish pilots whose jet was shot down when Syria claimed the plane was violating its airspace. Turkey disputes Syria’s claims, and the Turkish military continues its investigation.

The Kurdish question

Henri Barkey, a Turkey analyst at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, said the Turkish military “would not mind doing something heroically and therefore cleanse their image,” but he noted that it is already burdened by a low-level war with Kurdish rebels who seek self-rule.

That conflict has dragged on since the 1980s without a clear solution, and there are questions about whether Turkey can handle the threat from Syrian forces armed with jets and tanks, even if they are overstretched with their fight against the Syrian insurgency.

There is no public clamor in Turkey for intervention in Syria, and a general aversion to casualties, particularly when it comes to the idea of Turkish soldiers dying to protect Syrian civilians.

Mr. Barkey said Turkey has yet to find a strong enough justification to go into Syria without the participation of a multilateral or U.N.-sanctioned force, and the military supports a cautious approach.

“They are now subservient to the civilians, and there’s a very funny way in which Erdogan is now emerging as a protector of the military,” he said.

The prime minister views the military “no longer as a potential opponent but rather a child in his ward,” he added.

Against the backdrop of worries about intervention in Syria, the Istanbul funeral this month for Ozkan Atesli — a Turkish soldier killed by suspected Kurdish rebels in an attack on a military vehicle — reflected the national sense of exhaustion and bitterness at the seemingly open-ended conflict that has afflicted Turkey for so long.

Egeman Bagis, a government minister, arrived at a mosque to pay his respects at the ceremony. According to video posted by the Hurriyet Daily News newspaper, a distraught woman interrupts: “We are in great pain. We feel like revolting.”

“This is a place to pray, not to revolt,” Mr. Bagis says. “Ozkan needs our prayers now.”