Turkey has deployed military units along its southern border with Syria, reports say amid speculations that the US may launch a military strike against the Arab country.
Turkish news agency Dogan said on Thursday that a 20 - vehicle convoy with a tank contingent was deployed to the border area of Yayladagi in Hatay province on Wednesday, and was followed by 15 more vehicles Thursday, AFP reported. Tanks, missile launchers and anti - aircraft guns on hilltops near the border town of Kilis were aimed at Syria, state - run TRT television said. State - run news agency Anatolia also said that an already enlarged troop presence on the southern border would also be reinforced. Six Patriot missile batteries, supplied by fellow NATO members, have been also been deployed in the area, which would be used in the event of a military action in Syria. Turkey, which has sided with the militants fighting to oust President Bashar al - Assad, has a border with Syria that stretches for more than 900 kilometers(559 miles). The United States and its allies, including Turkey, say there should be an attack on Syria in response to alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated on Wednesday that Turkey would take part in any international coalition against Syria.
" We have said that we are ready to take part in any kind of coalition and we perceive this as a coalition of volunteers, " Erdogan said without elaborating, shortly before leaving for the Group of 20 meeting in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.
Washington says it has obtained evidence proving the Syrian army was behind the chemical attack near Damascus on August 21, which killed hundreds of Syrians. The Syrian government has repeatedly said that the deadly attack was carried out by militants operating inside the country in a bid to draw in a foreign military intervention. A former member of a city council in Hatay province has told Press TV that the chemical weapons used in last month’s attack in Syria were transported from Turkey.
“Four months ago, Turkish security forces found a two - kilogram cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the al - Qaeda and al - Nusra. They are using our borders to take the gas into Syria, ” Mohamad Gunes said.
“The Syrian president has no reason to kill his own people,” he added. People in the southern province also said the weapons were used by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front militants and not the Syrian government. "America and Israel had al-Qaeda use chemical weapons in order to push us into war; none of us wants war here. In the history of Hatay, we all lived peacefully side by side, now there is Mossad, CIA and al-Qaeda all over the place. We are worried that they might use chemical weapons against us,” said Farid Mainy, a Hatay resident and an activist. The residents believe the Turkish government is allowing the transfer of weapons because Ankara is trying to create a pretext in order to wage war on its neighbor. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the number of Syrian refugees, who have fled the country’s 29-month-long conflict, reached two million. “Syria is hemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” the UNHCR said. The UN refugee agency also said some 4.2 million people have also been displaced inside Syria since the beginning of the conflict in the Arab country.