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Turkey summons commanders to discuss Syria intervention

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The Turkish army has called a meeting of troop commanders stationed along its fortified border with Syria to discuss a possible intervention in Syria, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

Turkey has boosted its military defences on the volatile border over the past week, stationing tanks and anti-aircraft missiles there as well as bolstering troop numbers, as fighting between Islamist-led groups and Syrian regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo has intensified.

The Turkish build-up has fed speculation that the government is planning to intervene in Syria to push Islamic State jihadists back from the border and halt the advance of Kurdish forces who have made gains against the extremists in the area.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday ruled out any prospect of an immediate intervention in Syria.

Bur Hurriyet said on Sunday that the Turkish Armed Forces had ordered all commanders of troops stationed along the border to attend a meeting at military headquarters in Ankara next week to discuss the details of such an operation.

The deployment of over 400 armoured vehicles, which would carry military personnel and be protected by jammers against mines laid by IS militants, would be on the agenda at the meeting, Hurriyet reported on its website.

The role of the Turkish Air Force in supporting such an operation is also expected to be discussed, it added.

Turkey currently has 54,000 soldiers deployed along the Syrian border.

Special forces commander Zekai Aksakalli on Sunday inspected troops on a tour of the southern border province of Kilis as a new convoy of artillery and missile batteries was deployed, Anatolia news agency reported.

Davutoglu said on Thursday that while a unilateral intervention was “out of the question” under current conditions, Turkey would “not wait for tomorrow” to act in Syria “in the event of a threat to domestic security”.

Turkey is one of the fiercest opponents of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus and has taken in more than 1.8 million refugees since the war in Syria began.

Ankara also fears that the growing power of Kurdish forces there will embolden Turkey’s 15-million strong Kurdish minority.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would “never allow” the formation of a Kurdish state along Turkey’s southern borders.