Turkey ready to protect exclave, says foreign minister
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
ANKARA - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said the country’s armed forces are ready for every possibility regarding Turkish territory in Syria which is home to the symbolically-important Suleyman Shah Tomb.
Speaking on a private Turkish television channel on Wednesday, Davutoglu said: "Our troops are ready for every possibility in the area; it does not matter even if a bad scenario happens in on election day."
"We, as a government, are responsible for our country's freedom."
Protected by Turkish troops, the Suleyman Shah Tomb -- Turkey's only exclave -- and the surrounding area are located in Aleppo's Manbij district, approximately 30 km from the Turkish border.
Turkey's foreign minister said it was not right for the media to highlight the tomb issue every day as it made Turkish troops stationed there concerned.
Radical Islamist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) -- which is locked in intense fighting with anti-government Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels around the tomb -- has allegedly demanded that Turkish troops leave the region.
On the downing of a Syrian warplane by Turkish jets on Sunday, Davutoglu said there is nothing more dangerous than not showing deterrence in time. He also mentioned the jet had been bombing the Turkmen-populated Bayir-Bucak region of Latakia in Syria.
Davutoglu also slammed the media for acting against Turkey's interests about the situation, saying: "Nobody is criticizing his troops before the international community except these media."
The foreign minister said Turkey changed the rules of engagement after a Syrian jet downed Turkish F-16 type plane in 2012 and acted accordingly.
"Turkey cannot show any weakness about it, the price would be huge," he said.
Syrian opposition forces are occupying more towns in the Turkmen Bayir-Bucak region as clashes with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad intensify.
For almost a week, conflict in the town of Kesab has raged between the Syrian regime and the opposition. However, the town has remained calm since the opposition took over and raised flags at the local police stations.
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