Local Turks uneasy over ongoing fighting on Syrian border
KARKAMIS – Standing on a field near the Syrian border, Huseyin Ozdemir pledges for protection from the Turkish soldiers, saying Islamist militants are digging trenches and planting mines on the Syrian side of the border, just a few miles away from his village.
Ozdemir, a local farmer at Turkish village of Karanfilkoy across Syria’s Jarablus, wants to see army presence on border.
“Islamic State (militants) are here. They plant mines on Syrian border. They don’t cross into our territory. We want to see our soldiers present on the border but we don’t want war. We don’t want our soldiers crossing the border. We will be satisfied if they just protect our borders,” he said.
Up and down the 900 km (560 mile) border, Turks are growing increasingly frustrated at the violence spilling into their towns and villages. More than 1.8 million Syrian refugees are now also sheltering on the Turkish soil.
Turkish media reported this week IS militants in Syria, metres away from the Turkish frontier, were digging trenches and laying mines near the town of Jarablus.
“Islamist militants are threatening us from the other side of the border. They make throat-cutting gestures. This affects us. The presence of Turkish soldiers at the border gives us confidence but we don’t want them to cross into Syria. That would be devastating,” said another villager, Hall Kocaaslan.
“I have been asking myself where would we go? People of Jarablus fled to Turkey. Where would we flee? Turkish people, people of this village do not want war. We absolutely do not want Turkish soldiers to violate the border and enter Syria,” Kocaaslan continued to say.
Local Turks ask for support in the form of military reinforcement on the border, although they are concerned over reports on a prospective cross-border operation.
“I don’t want any intervention unless an attack is carried out by Islamic State or Syria,” said Ismail Kilic, a villager.
Turkey has deployed additional troops and equipment along part of its border with Syria as fighting north of the city of Aleppo intensifies, security sources said, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said there were no immediate plans for any incursion.
Ankara has mooted the creation of a ‘secure zone’ on Syrian territory due to concerns about Syrian Kurd advances and the presence of Islamic State militants, as well as the possibility of a fresh wave of refugees fleeing conflict.
Security sources and officials in the capital Ankara said the Turkish army had stepped up security, also sending in special forces, due to the heavy fighting.
Jarablus, its low-rise concrete buildings visible from Turkey, appeared quiet on Saturday (July 4) and there were no immediate signs of significant activity at a military outpost on the Turkish side of the border, a Reuters witness said. -Reuters