Turkey sends doctors to Syrian border as threat of offensive grows

ISTANBUL (dpa)- Turkey has sent doctors to two south-eastern provinces along its border with Syria amid repeated warnings by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of a unilateral military offensive.
A Health Ministry document, seen by dpa, ordered doctors from 19 provinces to be sent to Sanliurfa and Mardin to serve for a month, from September 20 to October 20.

The medical personnel will provide "health services within the scope of the planned cross-border military operation to the Syrian region by the Turkish Armed Forces," it said.
Dr Osman Ozturk, general secretary of the Istanbul Medical Chamber, told dpa that so far 94 doctors from 19 provinces are being sent to Mardin and Sanliurfa.
Most of them were informed about the quick deployment Thursday evening and were told "to leave immediately," he said, as he confirmed the ministry order.
This week, Erdogan reiterated his warning that if a "safe zone" in north-eastern Syria is not established by the end of September, then Turkey will have to implement its "own action plans."
Turkey and the United States agreed in August to create a "safe zone" along the Syrian border. Ankara wants US-backed Syrian Kurdish militias pushed back and Erdogan says 3 million Syrian refugees can be settled there.
Ankara has repeatedly accused Washington of stalling on the zone, although both sides have conducted five joint aerial patrols and one combined ground patrol.
Ozturk said doctors could possibly be sent to the provinces of Sirnak and Hakkari, which border Iraq. Turkey regularly attacks positions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

Friday, September 20th 2019

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