Skip to main content

Turkey deploys troops, tanks to Syrian border

From Yesim Comert, CNN
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Thu June 28, 2012
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country was changing its military rules of engagement.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country was changing its military rules of engagement.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Turkey asks NATO to consider no-fly zone, senior U.S. official says
  • Turkey's National Security Council says it will act against "hostile action" by Syria
  • Air defense systems and tanks have been moved to the border, state media says
  • Personnel have been arriving in military vehicles for two or three days, a villager says

Istanbul (CNN) -- Turkey said Thursday that it will act against "hostile action" by Syria as troops and tanks deployed to the border after the downing of a Turkish jet last week.

"The incident of our unarmed plane on a test and training mission being shot down by Syria on June 22, 2012 in international airspace, has been discussed in detail," said a statement from Turkey's National Security Council after a five-hour meeting.

"It has been stressed that Turkey will act with determination against this hostile action reserving all its rights arising from international law," the statement said.

The military deployment along Turkey's border with Syria is linked to rising tensions between the neighboring nations after the jet went down, a Turkish government official said Thursday.

The apparent bolstering of its border force comes only two days after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was changing its military rules of engagement.

It now will treat a military approach toward its borders by Syria as a potential threat that "will be dealt with accordingly," he said.

"It seems that this is an implication of what the prime minister said in his speech," the Turkish official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak on the record, said when questioned on reports of troop movements in the border area.

NATO, Turkey slam Syria over downed jet
Unsettled neighbors
al-Assad: Syria 'in a state of real war'
Tough talk from NATO, but no action

A man from the border village of Guvecci, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said that personnel had been arriving for the past two or three days.

"They are coming in military vehicles. We hear that such transfers are taking place to all border stations," he said.

Is Turkey moving toward 'hard power' over Syria?

Turkish state TV channel TRT gave details of military convoy movements in border areas on its website Thursday, saying trucks loaded with tanks had been moved to a military unit on the border with Syria.

"There were also air-defense systems among the military transfer of military vehicles and tanks," it reported.

The semi-official Anatolia news agency also reported the transfer of armored vehicles to military posts in some districts of Sanliurfa and Hatay, along the border, on Wednesday.

Relations between the two countries, already strained, have worsened significantly since Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet on Friday. Both sides say the jet strayed into Syrian airspace, but Turkey says the incursion was accidental and quickly corrected.

Syria's response drew sharp condemnation from NATO, but the alliance did not promise any action in response to the incident. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Turkey did not invoke the NATO article calling for collective defense of members.

Turkey, while not seeking specific action, asked NATO members to study a range of ways a no-fly zone could potentially help the situation and ease threats, a senior U.S. official said.

It is "not clear what, if anything, will be done," the official said.

The request was first reported by The Telegraph, which described it as a request for a "contingency plan." The Telegraph cited a U.S. government source in saying the request took members by surprise but was now being taken back to the countries' capitals for consideration.

For its part, the U.S. military planning includes a scenario for a no-fly zone as well as protecting chemical and biological sites, CNN has reported previously. Officials say all the scenarios would be difficult to enact and must involve large numbers of U.S. troops and extended operations.

Meanwhile, the search for the jet's pilots continued.

Turkey's chief of general staff said in an online statement Thursday that an area measuring 70 miles by 23 miles has been scanned, "however neither our pilots nor the wreckage of the plane have been reached so far."

Some parts of the plane and some items belonging to the pilots have been found, however, the statement said.

Five military vessels, a plane and four search-and-rescue helicopters have been involved in the around-the-clock search since the plane was lost, it said. In addition, a navy hydrographic survey ship started a deep water search Tuesday.

A Syrian official said Wednesday that his country's forces might have thought the Turkish jet it downed was from Israel.

"As you know, there is a country called Israel there and, as you know, this Zionism country's planes are very similar. And because they both are from the same factory, from the U.S., maybe Syria thought it was an Israeli plane," Syrian Information Minister Omran Al Zubi told the Turkish A Haber channel.

Speaking Tuesday in Ankara, Erdogan stressed that his country isn't an aggressor, but will respond bluntly to threats.

"I express this at every opportunity: We never have our eyes on any country's lands. We don't show a hostile attitude against any country. We never threaten the security of any country," he said in remarks aired on CNN Turk.

"We never hesitate to respond in the harshest way and do what is necessary with all our existing power, as well as with the power and inspiration that we get from our history, against hostile attitudes, attacks and threats against us."

Syria raised the stakes Monday in the war of words over the incident.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the plane was shot down in Syrian airspace, disputing Turkey's claim that it was downed over international waters after briefly straying into Syrian airspace by mistake.

"What happened was a violation of Syrian airspace. Even Turkey says Syrian sovereignty was violated. Regardless of whether it was a training mission, a reconnaissance mission, it was a violation," Makdissi said.

Photos: In Syrian hospital, no escape from war

CNN's Ivan Watson and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Aqsa Mahmood,19, would listen to Coldplay and read Harry Potter books. Then this Glasgow girl became an ISIS bride.
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
updated 12:22 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
updated 5:33 AM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
updated 4:54 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 12:16 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT