World Bulletin/News Desk
The Turkish military launched a 10-day exercise at a base near the border with Syria on Monday, where fears of a spillover of violence and of the fallout of any chemical weapons use have escalated in recent weeks.
The exercise at Incirlik, a NATO air base outside the city of Adana where U.S. troops are also stationed, will test the military's readiness for battle and coordination with government ministries, the general staff said in a statement.
"(The exercise will) test joint operations that would be carried out between ministries, public institutions and the armed forces at a time of mobilisation and war," it said.
While the exercise in Adana province, some 100 km (60 miles) from the border, was described by NATO's second-biggest military as "planned", it comes at a time of heightened tension.
Turkey-Syria border crossing to remain closed
Turkey's customs and trade minister said a border crossing at the Turkish-Syrian border will remain closed for a while longer following a stampede last week.
Border crossings at the Akcakale Gate halted last Thursday after the stampeded erupted when Turkish border guards turned away a group of nearly 1,000 Syrians who tried to cross without passports.
One police officer was seriously wounded, and later died at hospital when people in the Syrian group fired randomly and 12 people were wounded including a soldier.
"These measures are only temporary. We will see that if the measures would continue for 10 days, 15 days, or 1 month," Yazici told reporters.
He said Turkish security forces and intelligence officials were working to apprehend the suspects responsible for the killing of the Turkish police officer.
The number of Syrian refugees who stay in camps in Turkey has reached well over 190 thousand, and approximately 200,000 others are living in city centers.
Turkish experts are meanwhile testing blood samples taken from Syrian casualties brought to a Turkish hospital from fighting in Syria to determine whether they were victims of a chemical weapons attack.
U.S. President Barack Obama last year said the use or deployment of chemical weapons by Assad would cross a "red line".
Assad's government and the rebels accuse each other of carrying out three chemical weapon attacks, one near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March, and another in Homs in December.
The civil war began with anti-government protests in March 2011. The conflict has now claimed an estimated 70,000 lives and forced 1.2 million Syrian refugees to flee.
Last Mod: 06 Mayıs 2013, 16:22