Turkish military jets
Barak. Concerned over drill
Turkey's military chief is not concerned about Israel's reaction to a joint drill involving Turkish and Syrian soldiers.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called this week's exercise a disturbing development.
Gen. Ilker Basbug told reporters Wednesday he was "not concerned by Israel's reaction," and Turkey wasn't seeking any other country's consent.
The drill, the first-ever between Turkey and Syria, ends Wednesday and marks improvement in once strained ties between both countries.
According to the Turkish military, "The aim of the exercise is to boost friendship, cooperation and confidence between the two countries’ land forces, and to increase the ability of border troops to train and work together."
The cooperation between Turkey and Syria follows a visit to the Middle East by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and conflict in Israel between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman over the future of peace talks with Syria.
Turkey's interest in the drill is apparently linked to its efforts to suppress Kurdish resistance in the southern part of the country. It is also the first time in which a NATO member has held a military drill with an Arab nation.
Earlier this week Barak called the drill "a disturbing development", but also said he believes "the strategic relations between Israel and Turkey will transcend Turkey's need to take part in this exercise".