LALE – Heron UAVs fly over northern Syrian skies

Heron UAVs fly over northern Syrian skiesTurkey cites the reason for building portable walls along the border with Syria, which has been engulfed in more than three years of civil war, to prevent mainly smugglers from entering into Turkey.Last week pictures were released showing workers placing blocks for a portable 1,200-meter-long wall along the border with Syria in Hatay province. Yet the walls are understood to have been built mostly to prevent the possible entry of Syrian opposition fighters — moderates and radical Islamists — into Turkey in big numbers, escaping from the Syrian regime’s increased offensive.Although Turkish officials decline to confirm, Israeli-made Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Turkey’s inventory have reportedly been flying over areas in northern Syria to collect information about the state of opposition rebels in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. It is unclear in the meantime whether Turkey has also been passing information that it gathers through the UAVs to Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, moderate rebels for whom Turkey openly declared its support against the Assad regime forces.However, FSA fighters have already lost strength and been replaced for a long period of time by radical foreign terrorists waging war against the regime forces. And sometimes, according to reports coming from the region, some of those radical militants forge alliances with regime forces to stage an offensive against other rival radical factions.Turkey has already engaged in a low-level conflict with the Syrian regime, largely owing to its policy of backing the opposition against the forces of Assad whom Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan declared his number one enemy. Turkey has been engaged in a dangerous encounter with Syrian regime forces since 2012 when a Turkish F-4 was downed by Syrian missiles, while a Syrian helicopter as well as a Syrian Mig 23 fighter was shot down by Turkish F-16s. In addition, radical Islamic terrorists staged an attack in Turkey’s Central Anatolian town of NiIde in late March, signaling the potential that Turkey may become a battleground for those extremist groups.As a sign of a possible Turkish military strike in Syria, Ankara has already issued a warning against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a radical group active in Iraq and Syria, that if it attacks the historic Ottoman tomb of Suleiman Shah in Syria, which is Turkish property, Ankara will respond militarily.Hence, ironically and sadly, Turkey is also coming under threat from radical groups that it has long been accused domestically and internationally of giving support to, in addition to its enmity with the Syrian regime.But Ankara is highly concerned now over increased infiltration of radical groups into Turkey prompting the Turkish military — which has already fortified the Turkish border areas close to regions where the fighting in Syria is taking place — to take additional measures such as building portable walls as well as flying UAVs over northern Syria to closely monitor the level of fighting on the ground in this country.In particular, Turkey is understood to have been closely monitoring the fighting in Aleppo, about 50 kilometers south of the Turkish border, whose fall to the regime forces will be a major blow for the opposition fighters. In such a case there is a potential that fighters may try to escape to Turkey in big numbers. Therefore, while UAVs gather information over the state of the fighting and the movement of the terrorists, for instance, in Aleppo, portable walls being erected along the Turkish border are intended to serve as a barrier to prevent fighters from entering Turkey. Hence the plan for Turkey is to force the militants to move towards Iraqi border region.Depending on the state of the fighting on the ground, we will see more walls erected along Turkey’s border region with Syria in the coming days and weeks for the purpose of preventing any radical militants on the run from entering Turkey.By erecting the walls, Ankara wants to make it difficult for the fighters to return to Turkey, which they used to infiltrate into Syria and to pose a threat against Turkey.Now the major question is when the Syrian opposition will collapse as Turkey prepares itself for this scenario.We Turks may one day wake up to a situation in which Syrian regime soldiers will be stationed on the other side of the Turkish border, taking full control of the region.At the end of the day what Turkey is left with is a tragic situation as outlined in the International Crisis Group’s report of April 30, headed, “The Rising Costs of Turkey’s Syrian Quagmire”: “The three-year crisis has taken its toll on Turkey, which hosts more than 720,000 refugees and has suffered over 75 fatalities of its own in spillover fighting. Many Syrians will remain for years, and if Turkey is to maintain an open-door policy, it needs more international support in providing for them.”The military costs to Turkey have also gone up as the jet fighters have been on duty 24 hours a day to prevent Syria from violating Turkish airspac

SOURCE: Todays Zaman