Turkey denies plans to send troops to Syria

Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz denies recent Syrian regime claim that Turkish soldiers have been sent to northern Syria, indicating that Ankara is not considering to deploy armed forces across border

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz attends the NATO Defense Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on Feb. 10, 2016.

Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz denied a report that a number Turkish soldiers had entered Syria over the weekend and said Ankara was not considering to deploy troops into its neighbour, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Monday.

The Syrian regime had recently claimed that Turkish forces were believed to be among 100 gunmen who entered Syria on Saturday with 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, in an operation to supply opposition forces fighting against the Assad regime.

"It is not true ... There is no thought of Turkish soldiers entering Syria," Yilmaz told a Turkish parliamentary commission when asked about the allegation by the Syrian regime, made in a letter to the UN Security Council.

Turkish Armed Forces kept shelling YPG targets in northern Syria over the weekend, after the group seized a strategically critical air base north of Aleppo, further complicating the conflict on NATO-member Turkey's southern border.

YPG is the militant wing of PYD which Ankara considers as the Syrian extension of the PKK and US considers an ally against DAESH terrorist group.

Turkey has long been confronted with armed attacks in its southeastern and eastern regions by the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and EU. Armed clashes and acts of violence have continued on and off for more than 30 years, and claimed more than 40,000 lives.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has demanded that the YPG withdraw from areas it has recently captured from Syrian rebels north of Aleppo near Turkish border.

US President Barack Obama urged Russia on Sunday to stop bombing "moderate" opposition forces in Syria in support of its ally Bashar al Assad, a campaign seen in the West as a major obstacle to efforts to end the five-year-old civil war.

On the contrary of recent reports, Yilmaz also stated that Saudi Arabian aircraft has not arrived at Turkey's Incirlik Air Base yet, aimed for the fight against DAESH, but said a decision had been reached with the Saudis who will send four F-16 jets in coming days.

A Turkish soldier was killed on Sunday evening after Turkey's security forces clashed with a group at the Syrian border that was trying to enter Turkey illegally, the armed forces said in a statement.

Turkish military, which has recently tightened its border controls along Syrian border, said on Monday that the clash occurred in the Yayladagi district of the Hatay province at 7:15pm local time (1715 GMT).

TRTWorld, Reuters