Turkey puts military on alert, says all options open on Syria

ANKARA Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:56am EDT

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has put its armed forces on alert to guard against threats from Syria as Western allies weigh military action against President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

"We are now at a more alert position ... Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests," Davutoglu told reporters.

"The Turkish armed forces have the mandate to take every measure against any security threat from Syria or elsewhere ... and retaliate within the rules of engagement."

U.S. President Barack Obama and his European and Middle Eastern allies have blamed Assad for a poison gas attack near Damascus last week, which killed of hundreds of civilians, and are drawing up plans for punitive military action.

"We are in constant negotiations. All of these options are being evaluated," said Davutoglu, who has said Turkey would be ready to take part in an international coalition against Assad, even outside the auspices of the United Nations.

"What's important is that a position should be adopted ... that will not push Syria into further uncertainty."

(Reporting by Jonathon Burch, Gulsen Solaker and Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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