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Turkish troops head to Syrian border

As several nations prepare for an emergency meeting of the Action Group for Syria, Turkey deploys troops to defend its border. The international community has so far been unable to come to consensus about next steps as the crisis continues.

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A major question of any transition blueprint is the fate of Assad, who has been digging in and warning the nation that it is now on a war footing.

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Washington and its allies say Assad must step down. But Russia and China so far have refused to go along with any international plan calling for his ouster.

The raging conflict in Syria has reverberated into Turkey, which shares a 500-mile border with the nation.

Turkish media reported that a convoy of about 30 military vehicles, including trucks with missile launchers, was being deployed Thursday along the border in southern Hatay province.

Turkish officials have stressed that they want to avoid a military confrontation with Syria, but they were enraged last week when Syrian forces shot down a Turkish military jet off Syria’s coast. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said border security would be bolstered and that any Syrian military units approaching Turkey would be regarded as a threat.

The Turkish military buildup, and the increasingly tense relations between the neighbors, raises the possibility of a border clash. The Turkish frontier zone has become a haven for Syrian rebels and is also home to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the violence.

The border has also become a conduit for fighters and weapons heading into Syria. Turkey denies reports that it has provided arms to the rebels or facilitated delivery of weapons from third parties, such as wealthy, pro-rebellion Syrians and the Persian Gulf Arab nations of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of which have publicly backed the idea of arming the rebels.

Meanwhile, state-run media in Syria reported a “terrorist explosion” Thursday in the parking lot outside a judicial complex in central Damascus, the capital. Television images showed smoke billowing from the site and firefighters with hoses dousing flames engulfing several parked cars. The report said three people were injured and 20 cars damaged.

Syria has seen a number of car bombings in recent months, mostly targeting government or security installations, with dozens of civilians killed in the attacks. The government has blamed “terrorists,” its label for antigovernment forces.

Rebels seeking to oust Assad have vowed to take the battle to the capital, and fierce clashes have been reported in recent days in its restive suburbs.

On Wednesday, gunmen stormed a pro-government television station outside Damascus, ransacked the offices and studios, set off explosives and killed three journalists and several other employees, state-run media reported. Press organizations worldwide and the White House condemned the attack.

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