AMMAN, (Reuters) – The United States is concerned by reports that Syria is massing troops near the border with Turkey, which could escalate the crisis in the region, and is discussing the issue with Turkish officials, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Syrian troops gathered near the Turkish border, witnesses said yesterday, raising tensions with Ankara as President Bashar al-Assad increases the use of military force against a three-month-old popular revolt.
Turkey said the two countries’ foreign ministers had consulted by telephone, and Syria’s ambassador to Ankara was later summoned to the foreign ministry, demonstrating further how disturbed Turkey is over events in its southeast neighbour.
Clinton said the reported move by Syria to surround and target the town of Khirbat al-Joz just 500 metres (yards) from the Turkish border marked a worrying new phase of Syria’s attempt to quash anti-government protests.
“If true, that aggressive action will only exacerbate the already unstable refugee situation in Syria,” Clinton said.
“Unless the Syrian forces immediately end their attacks and their provocations that are not only now affecting their own citizens but (raising) the potential of border clashes, then we’re going to see an escalation of conflict in the area.”