ADN Kronos (Link) (April 27, 2009)
Turkey and neighbouring Syria began on Monday their first ever joint military drill along their border in an apparent bid to improve security. Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak called the move "a disturbing development".
"Today a Syrian-Turkish military manoeuvre is taking place, definitely a disturbing development. But I believe that the strategic relationship between Israel and Turkey will overcome Turkey's necessity to participate in this drill as well," said Barak, quoted by Israeli media.
"Even marking Israel's 61 years, our struggles are not yet behind us. We have yet to end our travails and reach a state of tranquillity," he said.
According to Turkish media, the exercise aims to boost friendship, cooperation and confidence between the two land forces and increase the capability of them to train.
The drill is expected to last three days and will take place in a border area that has been marred by a 25-year-long conflict between Turkey and Kurdish rebels.
However, Syria and Israel are technically at war, since Israel captured and annexed the Syrian Golan Heights following the 1967 Six-Day War.
Turkey on the other hand, is a key regional ally of Israel.
Last May, Israel and Syria launched peace talks aimed at a comprehensive peace agreement, under the auspices of Turkey.
Negotiations reached a stalemate in September after the resignation of Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Syria withdrew from the talks in protest against Israel's three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip in December and January. At least 1,330 Palestinians were killed and thousands of others were injured, according to Palestinian medical sources.
The offensive sparked outrage across the Arab world and worldwide protests against Israel.