Report: Turkey deploys tanks on Syrian border; Assad says country in a 'real state of war'
Local media reports at least 15 tanks deployed on border following the downing of a Turkish fighter jet.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Tuesday his country was in a real state of war and gave no sign of a softer approach towards a pro-democracy revolt by ordering his newly appointed government to direct all policies towards winning.
Turkey deployed at least 15 tanks and armored vehicles on its border with Syria, local media reported, amid a row over a downed Turkish fighter jet.
"We live in a real state of war from all angles," Assad told a cabinet he appointed on Tuesday. "When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war."
Assad snubbed countries that have been calling for him to step aside, saying the West "takes and never gives and this has been proven at every stage."
Earlier on Tuesday, Russia said Syria's shooting down of a Turkish warplane should not be seen as a provocation and warned world powers against using the incident to push for stronger action against Damascus.
It was Moscow's first reaction to Friday's downing of a Turkish military aircraft by Syrian air defenses, which gave a new international dimension to the worsening conflict in Syria.
Turkey's NATO allies condemned Syria's action as unacceptable but stopped short of threatening any military response. Turkey also plans to approach the U.N. Security Council.
"It is important that what happened is not viewed as a provocation or a premeditated action (by Syria)," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
Moscow repeated its calls for restraint, warning that any political escalation would be "extremely dangerous" and threaten international efforts to salvage a moribund six-point Syrian peace plan drawn up by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
"Once again, we call on all sides to act exclusively in the interests of such an agenda (the peace plan) and not to take steps that go beyond its limits," the ministry said.
"We believe that the best course of action is restraint and constructive interaction between the Turkish and Syrian sides in order to clarify all the circumstances of the incident."
Syria provides Moscow with its firmest foothold in the Middle East, buys weapons from Russia worth billions of dollars, and hosts the Russian navy's only permanent warm water port outside the former Soviet Union.
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