US concerned at Syria border moves, fears escalation

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.”

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