Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Syria to hold military drills with Turkey

Shortly after Ankara cancelled an air force exercise with Israel, Syria announced plans to hold military maneuvers with Turkey.

Praising Turkey for excluding Israel from the Anatolian Eagle drill, Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmud told reporters on Tuesday that his country is to stage a second round of joint military exercises with Turkey.

"We held our first joint land military exercise (with Turkey) last spring. And today we have agreed to do a more comprehensive, a bigger one," Mahmud said without specifying a date.

The announcement came during a meeting of 10 Turkish ministers with 15 Syrian ministers in the Syrian city of Aleppo to discuss energy and electricity projects.

Analysts believe that enhancement of relations between Syria and Turkey, would revive fears of cooler relations between Israel and Turkey.

There are conflicting reports about what resulted in the cancellation of a joint military maneuver by the US, NATO, Italy, Israel and Turkey scheduled for later this month.

While Israeli sources say Turkey barred the Israeli Air Force from participating in the drill in protest at Tel Aviv's military offensive in Gaza, Turkish sources say Tel Aviv's delay in the delivery of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to the country is the main reason for the cancellation.

The cancellation has prompted Israel to threaten to review the sale of the advanced weapons systems to Turkey. Turkey, however, insists that the move was not political.

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