Turkey deployed more military vehicles to its southeastern province of Kilis near the Syrian border early Sept. 4.
A total of eight trucks loaded with tanks and howitzers passed through Kilis in the direction of the Elbeyli district on the Syrian border.
The military vehicles were transferred under security measures to troops on the Syrian side of the border, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking with the media.
Security sources told daily Hürriyet the M-60 tanks were sent to the border as part of Ankara’s contingency plan to contain a new refugee wave over the Syrian regime’s looming assault on Idlib, a northwestern Syrian province that remains as one of the last strongholds of the opposition.
The tanks are also equipped with close distance observation systems to monitor migrant movements.
Turkey expanded the Atmeh refugee camp on the Syrian side of the border and reinforced its 12 observation stations in Idlib ahead of the looming battle.
The United Nations worries the offensive could force 2.5 million people toward the Turkish border.
An offensive is likely to first strike southwest Idlib and the al-Ghab plains, which overlook the coastal area where Russia has its military and naval bases. Another front for the offensive is from the south and southeast, which would restore government control over an essential highway that runs between Syria’s major cities.
The area, controlled by rebels since 2015, has been a target of airstrikes by the government and Russia for months, leaving its infrastructure, schools and hospitals in desperate conditions.
Thousands of refugees had fled to Turkey after the regime assault targeting Aleppo in 2016.