World Bulletin/News Desk
U.S. defense chiefs on Friday downplayed Turkey's deployment of troops and military vehicles toward its border with Syria, saying the movements didn't appear aimed at escalating tensions with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A Turkish official on Thursday described the movement as a precaution after Syrian air defenses shot down a Turkish warplane a week ago.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta noted that Turkey has maintained troops along the border.
"And I wouldn't read too much into the movements that have been in the press," Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon.
Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that "I wouldn't read that as provocative in any way."
Dempsey, who recently spoke with his Turkish counterpart, General Necdet Ozel, added: "You'd probably have to ask the Turks. I've asked them and they are not seeking to be provocative."
Commenting on his conversation with Ozel, Dempsey said: "He's taking a very measured approach to the incident. So he and I are staying in contact."
Turkish commanders on Friday inspected missile batteries deployed in the border region, seen as a graphic warning to Assad after last Friday's shoot-down of the Turkish plane.
"A nation loses in this case two airmen to a hostile act, it will of course increase the risk of escalation. But [...] the internal movement of their ground forces, -- I wouldn't read that as provocative in any way. [...] I've asked them, and they are not seeking to be provocative," Dempsey told reporters in a press conference.
US Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta said the United States continued to be concerned about developments in Syria.
"We are in discussions. Turkey is one of our allies in that region. We continue to be in close discussions with them with regards to how we best approach the situation in Syria. They have maintained troops, as I understand it, along the border. And I wouldn't read too much into the movements that have been in the press," Panetta said.
Turkey has begun moving troops and armored units to the border with Syria just days after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was changing rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces.
"Any Syrian military element approaching the Turkish border from Syria will be considered as a military threat and dealt with accordingly," Erdogan has said.
The unarmed Turkish plane was shot down by Syria while on a training and test mission after unintentionally strayed into Syrian airspace but it was quickly warned by Turkish authorities to leave.
The incident has drawn widespread condemnation amid the continuing violence in Syria.
Turkey said the Syrian act constituted a violation of international law and that Ankara would take "every necessary measure."
Head of Libya’s UN-backed unity government voices readiness to step up security, military cooperation with Moscow
It said the group was led by Syla, who surrendered to authorities in April two days after a major police probe and was placed under house arrest.
Col. Habiarimana Mucebo is said to be in charge of intelligence in the Rwandan extremist group, FDLR
French authorities transfer about 2,500 people voluntarily out of the informal camp for refugees and migrants
Amnesty International calls for independent hybrid court to prosecute government's crimes in the capital Juba last July
Scores of ISIL militants mounted a daring attack on Rutba on Monday
More than 240 Palestinians have been killed since an uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence since October
'We must give a chance to dialogue,' a senior official of the International Criminal Court says in Senegal
Beijing has implemented strict rules in Xinjiang forbidding anyone under the age of 18 from following a religion, levying hefty fines against families whose children study the Quran or fast during Ramadan.
GREECE has received yet another bailout worth billions from EU money chiefs
Located about 20 kilometers (13 miles) southeast of Mosul, Qaraqosh considered main entrance to ISIL-held city
As many as 41 Ugandans were reportedly kidnapped by S. Sudan rebels since summer
Negotiators tried for an hour to persuade the teenage refugee to move back while neighbours booed and encouraged him to commit suicide.
Straight from the horses mouth, Trump has launched a nightly live show on Facebook to counter the biased media
More than 2,300 refugees have been evacuated from Calais camp as part of three-day operation