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MIDEAST > Syria military on the verge of ‘disintegration’

ANKARA

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Military mobilization in Aleppo can be a
‘red line’ for Turkey, says Clinton. AP Photo

Military mobilization in Aleppo can be a ‘red line’ for Turkey, says Clinton. AP Photo

Turkey believes that the recent wave of bloody attacks on civilians by Syrian forces is a clear indication of the disintegration of the military and a loss of control, expressing its concerns that a massing of the Syrian military near Aleppo could result in massive migration toward the Turkish border.

“The disintegration of the military has begun. The al-Assad regime has started to lose control. It’s desperately attacking populous residential areas,” is the assessment in Ankara, a source told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Since the beginning of the implementation of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan on April 12, the violence committed by Syrian forces and pro-regime militias has changed color as it turned bloodier and more threatening, according to Ankara. Burning corpses and killing children are seen as moves of a military that has already lost control.

Use of attack choppers

The use of attack choppers, particularly in operations against urban structures of Syrian opposition groups, is another indication of this shift, according to Ankara. The Syrian move to purchase 15 attack choppers from Russia is being evaluated in light of this Syrian army strategy.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov yesterday denied a claim by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria.” Lavrov said during a visit to Iran that Russia was completing earlier weapons contracts with Syria exclusively for air defense systems. “The Syrian army has just one division, which is being moved from one city to another. Their recent target seems to be Aleppo, which is home to some 4 million Syrians in its greater region,” the source said.

Clinton urges red line

This observation by Ankara is also shared by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She warned on June 12 about the massing of Syrian forces near Aleppo over the last two days, saying such deployment could be a “red line” for Turkey “in terms of their strategic and national interests.”
“We are watching very carefully,” she said in Washington. “This term of ‘red line’ is not our terminology,” a senior Foreign Ministry official told the Daily News yesterday. “But this reflects the importance we attach to this specific development in Aleppo,” the official said, expressing concerns that an offensive in such a large city could cause hundreds of thousands to flee across the Turkish border.

Turkey is planning to take some precautions along or inside the Syrian border only if the refugee situation becomes uncontrollable.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the number of Syrian migrants in Turkey has increased to nearly 30,000 with 2,500 more crossing the border in the last 48 hours. The fact that more wounded refugees are crossing the border shows that Syrian forces have increased the level of their violent acts against civilians.

The establishment of a buffer zone or creating humanitarian corridors could be considered Turkey’s contingency plan for such a situation but requires a multilateral consensus.

June/14/2012

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