December 16, 2011
War tensions around Syria rose alarmingly Thursday night, Dec. 15, when Turkey’s top military council convened “to review the armed forces’ preparedness for war” in response to the deployment of Syrian missiles, some tipped with chemical warheads, on their common border. DEBKAfile’s military sources report the meeting was led by Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
The Assad government also rushed armored units in two directions – to the Turkish frontier and also to the Jordanian border opposite the US special operations units from Iraq newly deployed to defend Jordan against a Syrian attack, as DEBKAfile reported on Dec. 13
Our sources report that 21 Syrian missile launchers, five of them Scud D with chemical warheads, are deployed in northern Syria opposite the Turkish Hatai (Alexandretta) district. They were moved up in broad daylight to make sure Western spy satellites and Turkish intelligence surveillance saw them. More are on the way.
In Israel, the IDF announced it was reconstituting the special command for operations behind enemy lines under the command of Brig. Gen. Shay Avital.
Before the military council convened in Ankara, Turkey placed its border contingents, air force and navy on war preparedness.
The official statement said the high military council had “assessed Turkish army needs and necessary steps to address these requirements…”
The Turkish press repeated a statement by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in an interview two weeks ago that Turkey does not want to consider a military option for intervention in neighboring Syria as Damascus cracks down on popular protest, but it is ready for any scenario.
The Turkish army has prepared operational plans for seizing parts of northern Syria if the situation there continues to deteriorate. Those plans would essentially carve Syria into two entities, with the Turkish army holding the north and protecting opposition and civilian populations, while the Syrian army and Assad loyalists would remain in control of the central and southern regions.