Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades. N. Israel on alert

Turkish army officers have assumed direct command of the first two Syrian rebel brigades fighting Bashar Assad’s government forces, according to debkafile’s exclusive sources. This step has sent military tensions rocketing on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon in case of a backlash.

The rebel North Liberators Brigade in the Idlib region of northern Syria and the Tawhid Brigade fighting in the Al-Bab area northeast of Aleppo are now taking their operational orders from Turkish officers, who exercise their authority from headquarters outside Syria in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. Nonetheless, Turkey is considered to have stepped directly into the Syrian conflict marking the onset of foreign intervention.

Western and Arab military circles in the Middle East expect Turkey to extend its command to additional rebel units – not all of them part of the Free Syrian Army.

This first step has already caused waves.

4.  Later that day, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan commented: “The regime in Syria has now become a terrorist state.”

Only a few of Erdogan’s listeners understood he was laying international legal grounding for expanding Turkish military intervention in Syria.

Full article: Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades. N. Israel on alert (DEBKAfile)

US weighs limited military action against Assad. Turkey may join

Convinced that the Syrian ruler would never allow himself to be pushed into accepting UN intervention, the Americans continue to keep limited military intervention on the table.

They will let it simmer there until the Six-Power nuclear talks with Iran beginning Saturday, April 14, in Istanbul are well under way, so as not to give Tehran pretexts for toughening its bargaining position or pulling out of the negotiations.

Turkey too is moving closer than ever before to real military action, not just empty words. Armed Turkish assault helicopters flew Tuesday over the Syrian border. They were there to warn Damascus that if Syrian soldiers again fired across the border into Syrian refugee camps as they did Monday, April 9, they would be targeted by the Turkish gunships.

Sources in Ankara reminded local and Arab media of the existence of the mutual defense cooperation pact known as the “Adana agreement” which Turkey and Syria concluded in 1998.

Article 1 states that “Syria, on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, will not permit any activity that emanates from its territory aimed at jeopardizing the security and stability of Turkey.”

Under this article, Ankara feels Turkish military intervention in Syria is legitimate. This reminder was offered the media, our military sources confirm, to provide the legal grounding for a potential Turkish military move across its border into Syria.

Full article: US weighs limited military action against Assad. Turkey may join (DEBKAfile)