A train carrying several batteries of missiles and troop carriers has arrived in the southeast Turkish city of Mardin, the Anatolia state news agency reports. The move comes a month after Syria downed a Turkish jet for violating its airspace.
The convoy included at least five transport vehicles carrying missiles, according to footage released by the NTV news channel.
In June, Ankara deployed a number of tanks and military vehicles to the borderline Diyarbakir province, while missile batteries were stationed in the Hatay province to the west of the Syrian border.
The latest move comes as Syrian rebels reportedly took control of three border posts with Turkey. Some of the fighters believed to be in control of the Bab al-Hawa post claimed allegiance to al-Qaeda, while others identified themselves as members of a group called Shura Taliban.
The border posts were taken over as part of a rebel offensive against government forces. The brunt of the attack was concentrated on regime strongholds such as Aleppo and Damascus.
Relations between Turkey and Syria have been worsening since the beginning of the uprising last year. Turkey has been host to a number of meetings between the fragmented Syrian opposition, and Istanbul is the base of the Syrian National Council (SNC), recognized by a number of Western powers as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
Last month, Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet, saying it had violated its airspace. Damascus also offered an apology for the incident and the subsequent death of the two pilots.
Turkey, however, said the downing of the jet was an act of aggression on Syria’s part, claiming the plane did not cross the border on purpose, and was shot down without warning after flying back into international space. Ankara then called a NATO meeting over the incident. The alliance condemned the incident, but did not take any serious actions against Syria.
Following the incident, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government now regarded Syria as a “clear and immanent threat.”
Turkey has deployed ground-to-air missiles on its border with Syria
According to a Sunday report by the Turkish Anadolu Agency, Ankara also deployed troop carriers along the border with Syria.
A train convoy transporting several missile batteries arrived in the southeastern province of Mardin on Sunday.
The report comes at a time when relations between Ankara and Damascus have deteriorated.
On June 22, Syria said its air defense forces shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom in the Syrian airspace “according to the laws that govern such situations.” The aircraft crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told TRT television on June 24, “According to our conclusions, our plane was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles from Syria.”
However, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a press conference in Damascus a day later that the Turkish warplane “violated Syrian airspace, and in turn Syrian air defenses fired back and the plane crashed inside Syrian territorial waters.”
On June 26, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an address to the parliament that Ankara would retaliate “with determination” and take the “necessary steps by determining the time, place and method by itself.”
The Turkish Hurriyet Daily reported on the same day that Ankara had deployed a “large number of military vehicles to the Syrian border,” including “15 armored tanks, in addition to long-distance guns and other military vehicles.”
Turkish state media also reported on June 28 that Ankara had sent a convoy of about 30 military vehicles, including trucks loaded with missile batteries, to the Syrian border.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily in an interview in early July that Turkey “has supplied all logistic support to the terrorists who have killed our people.”