New group of Turkish troops arrive in Doha as Qatari defense minister visits Ankara

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A handout picture taken and released by the Turkish Defence Ministry on June 30, 2017, shows Turkey's Defence Minister Fikri Isik (R) and Qatar's counterpart Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah (L) smiling prior to their meeting in Ankara. AFP

Qatar’s ministry of defense has announced the arrival of a new group of Turkish soldiers at a military base in Doha, while Defense Minister Khaled bin Mohammed al-Attiyah met with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara on Friday.

Turkish forces are set to take part in joint exercises within the framework of a defense agreement signed between Doha and Ankara aimed at raising Qatar’s defense capabilities, supporting “counter-terror” efforts, and maintaining security and stability in the region, Al Jazeera reported on Friday.

According to the Hürriyet daily, the number of Turkish soldiers sent to Qatar could eventually reach 1,000.

During a press conference in Ankara on Friday, al-Attiyah blamed Gulf countries for a recent diplomatic crisis in the region, saying, “This is a bloodless declaration of war.”

“Qatar and Turkey maintain historic ties, and my visit comes in the context of boosting defense cooperation between the two countries,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates abruptly cut ties with Qatar on June 5, citing Doha’s support for terrorist groups including al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Doha denies the accusations and has rejected a 13-point list of demands it received from the four countries to restore ties.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said on Friday that “the current issues between the [Gulf] countries, who are brothers, must be resolved soon on the basis of a sincere dialogue and respect for Qatar’s rights.”

Turkey has vowed to stand by Qatar and called on Saudi Arabia to end all sanctions.

Immediately after the countries imposed sanctions on Qatar, Turkey’s Parliament approved two agreements for deploying troops to Qatar and military cooperation. Ankara has also sent supplies, including a ship carrying 4,000 tons of food.

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