Turkish PM, intel chief discuss Syria, security matters

Turkish PM, intel chief discuss Syria, security matters

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM, intel chief discuss Syria, security matters

A group of Syrians fleeing violence in their country, walk toward to the camp after they cleared barbed wire to enter Turkey near Reyhanlı, Hatay. The number of Syrian people crossing the Turkish border climbs to 15,900. AA photo

The Turkish government is continuing to evaluate different options it could undertake to stop a potential influx over its borders as concerns about developments in Syria grow.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), in an unannounced meeting at his residence yesterday. He also invited Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ and Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to the meeting.

Among a number of issues discussed during the meeting, the developments in Syria topped the agenda, according sources wishing to remain anonymous. As the Syrian administration intensified its military operations against regime opponents especially in the northern part of the country, the number of Syrian people crossing the Turkish border climbed to 15,900 today.

While the government has increased its efforts to host the increasing number of refugees, it is also considering ways to handle a potential exodus of hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

According to Turkish intelligence, the violence between the Syrian administration and the Free Syrian Army could now have spread to Aleppo, whose population has strong connections with their relatives in Turkey.

Truck driver killed

Establishing a buffer zone along the border was among the options discussed in Ankara but the lack of international backing to legitimate it is a major concern of the government. In addition, growing criticism from opposition parties over Ankara’s Syria policy stands as another obstacle. Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu continued his strong reactions against the government’s stance concerning Syria March 17. Recalling that 12 troops were killed in Afghanistan, Kılıçdaroğlu said the tragic incident in Kabul should also lead the country to think about Syria.

“Someone is not invading Syria and is instead patting Turkey on the back, telling us to go into Syria. Syria is our neighbor; they are our brothers and sisters. We will not be subcontractors to imperialist powers, we promise you,” he said.

In the meantime, another Turkish driver was killed in Idlıb, Syria as he was returning home after unloading his truck. Mustafa Üçtaş was reportedly caught in the crossfire of the Syrian army and Free Syrian Army. Idlib is only 30 kilometers from Turkey’s Cilvegözü border gate. The Turkish Foreign Ministry warned all Turkish citizens in Syria to return home due to security conditions.