TEL AVIV – A top Damascus official has told WND the Turkish military has begun calling up reserves for a potential armed confrontation with Syria.
The claim could not be immediately independently verified by U.S., French or Egyptian sources, but the purported move comes at the same time a United Nations resolution calls for unspecific “swift and meaningful consequences” if Syria continues to flout a U.N.-brokered truce with protesters.
Over the weekend, Iranian official Ali Larijani said countries that seek to stoke the crisis in Syria will be “engulfed by its fire.” With obvious reference to Turkey and the international community, Larija warned unnamed countries against waging war on Syria, saying a confrontation is like playing with “gunpowder.”
A reported 300 unarmed U.N. observers have begun arriving in Syria as part of the cease-fire agreement. Eight monitors are already in Syria, and a further two are expected to arrive today as part of the advance team agreed to in U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point strategy, which calls for an end to the violence and a flow of humanitarian assistance.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice acknowledged the challenges for the observers.
”They are going to be dependent for security on the very government [that] is responsible for the main security threats,” she said. ”They are going to be deployed in the midst of protesters who are desperate for a protection that the monitors are not equipped or mandated to provide. And they will be deployed in numbers too small to cover the entire country but large enough to give rise to expectations that will be impossible to meet if the Syrian government does not fulfill its commitments.”
Official: Turkey wants NATO to attack Syria
Last week, a Syrian official claimed to WND that Turkey had asked the Syrian opposition to ignore the truce and continue its assault against President Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime.
Also last week, WND reported the Syrian military is on its second-highest alert level, believing Turkey may be attempting to stage a provocation in the hope of drawing Damascus into a conflict, according to a top Syrian official.
The official said Syria noted unusual Turkish troop movements in recent days along the Syria-Turkey border.
Turkey claimed the movement was to guard refugees coming into the country from war-torn areas of Syria. The Syrian official, however, said Damascus believes Turkey may be trying to “surprise” Syria with some sort of provocation.