Officials said Obama has urged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to
improve relations with Israel as part of a strategy against Assad. They said
the president envisioned that Ankara and Jerusalem coordinate intelligence
and military deployment to help prevent Assad from using his army
against the opposition movement. So far, Damascus is said to have killed
more than 1,300 Syrian civilians in nearly three months, Middle East Newsline reported.
In June, Israel and Turkey conducted high-level talks meant to improve
relations and cooperation. Officials said Erdogan agreed to an Israeli
request to stop a Turkish-flagged flotilla from sailing to the Gaza Strip,
under siege since the Hamas takeover in 2007.
Officials said Obama, who has not publicly addressed Syria since May 19,
was changing U.S. policy toward Assad. They said the change came in wake of
recent talks between Obama and Erdogan in which the Turkish prime minister
warned that Assad's crackdown could destroy Syria and lead to a separate
Kurdish entity along the borders of Iraq and Turkey.
"Once Erdogan stopped his support for Assad, the president quickly
changed as well, although he kept this private," the official said.
In late June, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a proposal to
enhance military monitoring of Syria. Officials said the U.S. Navy's Sixth
Fleet was stationed near the Syrian coast of the eastern Mediterranean to
monitor Syrian military deployment as well as the presence of Iran and
Officials said Obama has been alarmed by the prospect of a military
clash between Syria and Turkey. They said most of the Syrian Army's Fourth
Division, led by Assad's younger brother, Maher, has been deployed along the
"Turkey sees this as a threat and could lash out before long," the
official said. "There is an attempt, coordinated with other neighbors of
Syria, to force Assad to withdraw his forces from the Turkish border."