Turkey, Syria begin joint military maneuvers

In the most obvious demonstration of improved ties between Turkey and Syria, the neighboring Middle East countries began Monday three-day joint military maneuvers.

The exercises, conducted in Syria along the Turkish border, will last until Wednesday, said reports quoting the Turkish defense ministry.

The joint maneuvers, the first of their kind, are aimed at strengthening cooperation between the land forces of the two countries on border protection.

Meanwhile, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said Monday that his country would watch carefully the joint exercise, which he termed as "a troubling development."

Israel has extensive defense relations to Turkey, while it maintains hostility with Syria.

NATO member Turkey and Syria came close to waging a war in 1998.

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