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Turkey recasts approach to armed groups in Syria

Intelligence reports of al-Qaeda threats against Turkey are causing concern.
Weapons are seen in the sand near Adra, east of Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA August 7, 2013. Sixty-two rebel fighters were killed in a Syrian army ambush at dawn on Wednesday near the town of Adra, east of Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. The state news agency SANA did not give a death toll for the ambush but said the rebels were from the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front. It
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Will Turkey’s cutting off logistical support to al-Qaeda in Syria, and discriminating between al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations and moderate groups under the Free Syrian Army banner, be enough to extricate the country from the Syrian morass? Reports leaked from the Turkish National Intelligence Service and other security agencies are instilling fears of a boomerang effect in Turkey, which is trying to give the impression that it has intensified border security. Illegal activities by armed groups who, until September, appeared to be enjoying impunity, are now finding their way to police and judicial records, indicating there may be some changes.

Some revelations and confessions are causing confusion regarding what Turkey is trying to achieve. For example, on Nov. 8 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the seizure of a truckload of ammunition as "showing Turkey’s sensitivity," and therefore an indication of Turkey’s anti-al-Qaeda operations. But the police were hoping to find narcotics in the truck, not guns, since they had received a tip on narcotics smuggling. If the tip had been related to weapons, perhaps the truck would not have been stopped. We gather this much from the court statement of L.K. the truck driver.

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