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MIDEAST >Turkish tanks take up position on Syrian border next to besieged Kurdish town

MÜRŞİTPINAR / ANKARA - Agence France-Presse / Reuters

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Turkish soldiers stand on top of tanks next to the Syrian-Turkish border fence near the town of Suruç in Şanlıurfa province, Sept. 23. REUTERS Photo

Turkish soldiers stand on top of tanks next to the Syrian-Turkish border fence near the town of Suruç in Şanlıurfa province, Sept. 23. REUTERS Photo

Turkish tanks took up position on a hill overlooking the besieged Syrian border town of Kobane on Sept. 29 after several shells hit Turkish territory as militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fired on the town, a Reuters correspondent said.

At least 15 tanks were positioned, some with their guns pointed towards Syrian territory, near a Turkish military base just northwest of Kobane. Plumes of smoke rose up as shells hit both the eastern and western sides of the city.
 
More tanks and armoured vehicles moved towards the Syrian border after at least two shells hit Turkish territory on Sept. 29, without causing damage.

But a mortar shell that hit a house in a Turkish village on the Syrian border late Sept. 28 left three people wounded, the military said on its website. It said Turkey's armed forces responded in kind.The military said it had fired back following the incident.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIL fighters had advanced within five kilometers of Kobane on Sept. 29. "It is the closest distance ISIL has come so far," said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the London-based monitor.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Parliament is set to discuss joining anti-ISIL coalition. The government said Sept. 29 it was likely to submit motions to parliament within 24 hours requesting extended mandates for military action in Iraq and Syria, so Ankara can join the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIL militants.

"The motions have not yet been sent to parliament. They may come tomorrow," parliamentary speaker Cemil Çiçek was quoted as saying by NTV television. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said the motions will be debated on Oct. 2.

Turkey refused to join a broad coalition led by the United States to defeat the jihadist fighters while dozens of its citizens including diplomats and children were being held by ISIL militants having been abducted from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

After securing their freedom in a top-secret operation which reportedly resulted in the release of 50 ISIL fighters, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey's position had changed, signalling a more robust stance towards the group.        

"We will hold discussions with our relevent institutions this week. We will definitely be where we need to be," Erdoğan said on Sept. 28. "We cannot stay out of this."       

The government hopes the motions will be passed by parliment before the Muslim Eid holiday which begins on Sept. 27.

In a rare move, Turkey's top general, Necdet Özel, will speak to the cabinet on Sept. 30, to be followed by a security summit chaired by Erdoğan.        

Turkey has so far accepted over 160,000 refugees who fled the ISIL assault near the town of Ain al-Arab, and has called for a safe zone and buffer zone to help civilians inside Syria.

Turkey has already taken in more than 1.5 million refugees who fled the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

September/29/2014

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