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Barak. Discussing Syrian-Turkish ties in Washington
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Turkish-Syrian drill raises concerns in Israel
Joint military exercise, similar to one held a year ago, signals tightening of ties between Ankara, Damascus. Israeli state officials fear Turkey may transfer Israeli technology to Syria

A joint Turkish-Syrian drill along the border the two countries share will commence Tuesday in a similar outline to a previous exercise conducted a year ago.

 

The tightening of Turkish-Syrian ties raises concerns in Israel, mainly due to their political significance and the possibility that the relations will expand to full out military cooperation. Such cooperation may include the transfer of technology Turkey received from Israel into Syrian hands.

 

The drill illustrates the strengthening of relations between Ankara and Damascus. Some six months ago the two countries revoked their citizens' need for a visa in crossing the Turkish-Syrian border.

 

Currently, there are no signs of a leakage of technology, however Israeli state officials continue to worry over the prospect. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has even raised the issue during his meetings in Washington.

 

The joint military drill is aimed at tightening cooperation between Turkish and Syrian land forces defending the shared border. At the core of the exercise is the establishment of procedures which would enable the border protection forces to communicate and coordinate operations in case of a border breach.

 

No aerial forces, including the RPVs Israel recently sold Turkey, are expected to take part in the drill.

 

One of the reasons Turkey is interested in strengthening the collaboration with the Syrian army is due to the fact that Kurdish PKK operatives, who also operate inside Turkish territory, infiltrate the country via Syria, which contains a large concentration of Kurds.

 

Turkey threatened to invade Syria in 1998 if it failed to foil infiltration activities. Syria eventually allowed the Turks to apprehend Kurdish leader Ausman Ojalan, who found refuge in Syria and who is currently detained in Turkey.

 

The PKK continue to operate in the region, though less extensively.

 

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