Russia's Ministry of Defense has voiced its growing concerns over Turkey's potential preparations for an invasion of Syria.
"Russian MoD registers a growing number of signs of hidden preparation of the Turkish Armed Forces for active actions on territory of Syria," the Ministry of Defense tweeted Thursday.
Russian MoD registers a growing number of signs of hidden preparation of the Turkish Armed Forces for active actions on territory of #SYRIA— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) 4 февраля 2016
"We have serious grounds to suspect the intensive preparations by Turkey for a military invasion on the territory of the sovereign state of Syria. We are recording more and more signs of concealed preparations by the Turkish military," Defense Department spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said in an official statement.
In his article for Global Research, Chicago-based syndicated columnist and author Stephen Lendman calls attention to the fact that only days earlier Turkey was spotted shelling on northern Latakia province populated by Syrian civilians.
To complicate matters further, Ankara recently denied a Russian observation flight over its territory, permitted under the Open Skies Treaty (OST).
Indeed, Ankara's actions have prompted justified suspicions.
On February 4, Russia's Ministry of Defense released satellite imagery showing that the terrorists which captured Aleppo and Idlib in Syria have been supplied through checkpoints on the Turkish-Syrian border near Sarmada — Reyhanli.
Oct.26,2015: parkings for trucks on Turkish side & terrorist-controlled part of Syrian border are empty at daytime pic.twitter.com/Sub9UWaVWh— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) 4 февраля 2016
According to the Ministry of Defense, Turkey's pads shown on the images are used to support rapid movement of military convoys; lots of them can be found along the Syria-Turkish border, "some of them with military hardware and personnel."
Picture taken Jan.30,2016 shows these parking rapidly enlarged & even protected. Moreover, their surface's worn out pic.twitter.com/FMn7bEST7c— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) 4 февраля 2016
"Therefore, the prohibition of our observers' Open Skies flights by Ankara will not hide the illegal Turkish military activity in the region," the Defense Ministry tweeted Thursday.
Interestingly enough, NATO officials and so-called human rights groups on the ground in Syria have turned a deaf ear to Russia's concerns.
"All Turkish military actions are approved by or complicit with Washington. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan would never act unilaterally on his own, not even aggressively against his own Kurdish population, slaughtering civilians in cold blood," Lendman suggests, adding that the Russian intelligence service is obviously keeping an eye on Ankara.
"Turkey does not have any plans or thoughts of staging a military campaign or ground incursion in Syria," a senior Turkey government official told Reuters on February 5.
The statement does sound reassuring. On the other hand, one should keep in mind that Ankara did not call its de-facto military invasion of Iraq a "ground incursion," but rather a "deployment of protection unit" aimed against Daesh (Islamic State/ISIL).
The crux of the matter is how Moscow and Damascus will respond to Turkey's possible intervention, Lendman notes.
He believes that the Erdogan regime will fail to provoke Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad into direct confrontation. At the same time they will not "tolerate naked aggression, threatening their national security."