[UPDATE] 23 Turkish troops, 5 armored vehicles arrive in Qatar amid Gulf crisis

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AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC

As part of the Turkish response to a recent crisis between Qatar and Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia, Turkey has sent 23 more soldiers and five armored vehicles to the Gulf country, the Hürriyet daily reported on Thursday.

According to a statement on the Turkish General Staff website, the contingent arrived in Qatar on Thursday morning.

The transfer of five armored vehicles and 23 military personnel at 8:00 a.m. on June 22, 2017 to Doha was completed as part of a troop deploying process by the Turkish Armed Forces to Qatar, within the framework of a legal arrangement between Turkey and Qatar on the training, cooperation and deployment of troops,” the statement said.

With the arrival of the new troops, the number of Turkish troops in the Gulf country will rise to 113.

Turkish troops in Qatar are expected to ultimately number 1,000 including the air force, Hürriyet said.

Turkish troops planned to carry out joint maneuvers with Qatari forces after Eid al-Fitr, which will start on Sunday.

On Monday, the Doha-based al Jazeera reported that Turkish troops had arrived in Qatar on Sunday and took part in long-planned joint military exercises.

But military sources in the region told Reuters no new Turkish military units had been sent to Qatar and that a unit already stationed there was taking part in the drills.

Al Jazeera posted a video on its website of armored personnel carriers moving through streets.

Turkey’s Parliament on June 7 fast-tracked legislation to allow troops to be deployed to a military base in Qatar that currently hosts 88 Turkish soldiers.

Turkey set up the base, its first such installation in the Middle East, as part of an agreement signed in 2014.

The Turkish forces conducted their first training at the Tariq bin Ziyad military base on Sunday, al Jazeera said, citing the ministry, saying the drills had long been planned.

The drills come as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and a number of other countries recently severed relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran. Qatar denies the accusations.

Turkey has been the foremost supporter of Qatar since the Gulf dispute began on June 5.
Ankara has also been trying to mediate between the sides to find a solution to the crisis.

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