Ankara announced Sunday it would hold its first drill with Syria this week, using ground forces in a border area that has been the focus of a 25-year conflict between Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
Turkey and Syria will stage their first joint military exercise this week, with the aim of boosting ties between the two countries' land forces at their shared borders, the Turkish military said in a statement Sunday. The Turkish military said teams from each country will cross the border and visit an outpost as part of three days of exercises to improve security, reported the AP.
Israel has extensive defense ties to Turkey, which is a NATO member and among the few Muslim nations to have built an alliance with the Jewish state. The Israeli and Turkish air forces and navies have held joint exercises.
"Today we see a Syrian-Turkish drill, which is certainly a troubling development," Barak told reporters. "But I believe that the strategic ties between Israel and Turkey will overcome even Turkey's need to take part in this drill."
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday he was willing to talk peace with Syria if there would be no preconditions. Last year, Israel and Syria held several rounds of indirect negotiations mediated by Turkey.
Meanwhile, a Tel Aviv court has sentenced an Israeli of Iranian origin to four years in jail on charges of spying for the Islamic republic, court sources said Sunday. The man, arrested in May 2008 but whose identity was not revealed, had confessed to "passing on information liable to serve the enemy to a foreign agent," the sources said.