Dubai: The Free Syrian Army said on Friday that Syrian troops were massing near the Turkish border amid tensions since Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet last week. “There are military units massing 15 kilometres or slightly more, from the Turkish border, in the northern region,” of Syria, FSA supreme military council head Mustafa Al Shaikh said.
Asked to comment, a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman reported: “No hostile intentions from the Syrian side.”
Al Shaikh said that around 2,500 troops backed by 170 tanks and other vehicles were stationed at the border, roughly 25km from Aleppo. Al Shaikh said the troop build-up could be a “show of force against the Turkish military, which increased its presence on the Syrian border” after warplane incident.
“Fearing Turkish military intervention, the Syrian military proceeded to mobilise its forces,” he said. But he said the troop build-up might equally be in preparation for an operation inside Syria. “Another possibility ... may be a crackdown in Aleppo countryside,” he said.
Meanwhile, dozens of civilians were killed across the country on Friday, but most of the deaths were in Douma, a suburb of Damascus and Deir Al Zour. The dead included three children and five members of a single family.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 125 civilians in fighting on Thursday alone.
International mediator Kofi Annan said on Friday he was “optimistic” that ministerial crisis talks being held on Saturday would produce an acceptable outcome.
But envoys who had gathered in Geneva were huddled in private meetings on Friday trying to come up with ways to break the deadlock on Syria’s political transition after Russia proposed changes to Annan’s plan.