ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — With reports of Turkish troops massed on Syria’s border, President Suleyman Demirel on Sunday warned that Turkey would not allow its neighbor to continue sheltering Kurdish rebels.
Ankara has indicated it is prepared to send forces across the border to eradicate guerrilla bases in Syria, which Turkey accuses of harboring rebels who wage cross-border attacks. Damascus denies the charge.
In an effort to head off a military conflict, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks Sunday with Syrian President Hafez Assad in Damascus and was due in Turkey later this week.
Turkish Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey carry out cross-border raids from camps in Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Turkey long has accused Syria of providing refuge to the rebels, a charge Damascus denies. The 14-year-old insurgency has left more than 37,000 people dead.
For its part, Syria is irked by Ankara’s plans to build dams on the Euphrates River, a key source of water for Syria. Turkey has said it would not negotiate a water-sharing agreement unless Syria cracks down on the Kurdish rebels.
The Assad government also says Turkey’s budding military and diplomatic ties with Israel are a threat to the Arab world and undermine Syria’s bargaining position in peace talks with the Jewish state. On Saturday, Damascus again accused Turkey of plotting with Israel to destabilize Syria.