Highlands & Islands

Turkey on UK-led Nato exercise in Scotland amid Syria tensions

Assault craft on Exercise Joint Warrior Image copyright LPhot Barry Swainsbury
Image caption Joint Warrior is a UK-led Nato exercise

Turkey is participating in a military exercise in Scotland amid tensions over the Turkish offensive against Kurdish-led forces in Syria.

The US and UK, whose governments have urged Turkey to end action in Syria, are also involved in Joint Warrior.

Most of the two-week exercise takes place around Scotland's north, north west and north east coasts.

Turkey, a Nato member, has two liaison officers at Joint Warrior, which involves more than 3,725 personnel.

Thirteen other nations are taking part in the war-fighting and counter-terrorism training, which started on 7 October and draws to a close later on Thursday.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched the offensive in northern Syria last week against members of a Syrian Kurdish militia, called the People's Protection Units (YPG).

The aim, they said, was to push the YPG back from the border, and to create a "safe zone" where up to two million Syrian refugees can be resettled.

Kurdish-led forces have been a critical ally of the US in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

Image copyright LPhot Mark Johnson
Image caption Sixteen warships and almost 60 aircraft and their crews are taking part

The UK government has said it does not support the Turkish military operation and has urged Turkey to end the action because of concerns it will destabilise the region.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed Turkey's participation in Joint Warrior, which is held twice a year and planned months in advance.

A spokesman said: "Turkey is a Nato member and has therefore contributed two liaison officers to the Nato Exercise Joint Warrior, who are taking part alongside personnel from 13 other nations."

'Reflects political tensions'

Sixteen warships and almost 60 aircraft and their crews, as well as ground troops, are involved in the exercise.

Sailors, marines, soldiers and air crews from Europe, the US, Japan and the United Arab Emirates are taking part.

The Clyde is a gathering point for many of the ships involved and some of the aircraft operate from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.

Live-firing training is also done at a weapons range at Cape Wrath on the north Highland coast.

The scenario for each Joint Warrior is designed to "reflect contemporary political tensions".

This autumn's exercise also included training for a new UK-France military force.

The Combined Joint Expeditionary Force is being set up to respond to any future crisis affecting the UK and France.

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