Second batch of Turkish troops arrived in Qatar amid ongoing Gulf tensions

A second batch of Turkish troops arrived in Qatar’s Al-Udeid airbase on Thursday, joining a Turkish detachment already in place for training exercises launched earlier this week.

A second batch of Turkish troops arrived in Qatar’s Al-Udeid airbase on Thursday, joining a Turkish detachment already in place for training exercises launched earlier this week.

The Turkish troops will take part in joint exercises with Qatari soldiers, pursuant to agreements signed between the two countries, said a statement by the Qatari Armed Forces Moral Guidance Directorate circulated on Twitter.

Earlier, Turkish media reports said a contingent of 25 soldiers would depart for Doha on Thursday to join some 90 troops already there.

The first joint drills took place on Sunday at the Tariq bin Ziyad military camp in Doha, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official news agency at the time.

The exercises aim to raise “Qatari and Turkish fighting efficiency amid plans for joint operations to fight extremism and terrorism, as well as peacekeeping operations before and after military operations”, said the statement in Arabic.

The drills had “been planned for some time”, it added.

They are taking place as a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf enters its third week.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and other countries have cut ties with Qatar over accusations the emirate supports allege terrorism.

Doha denies the accusations and says measures imposed on Qatar by its Gulf neighbours amount to a “blockade”.

Turkey is one of Qatar’s strongest allies.

It has strongly backed Qatar in the crisis with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that cut off relations with Doha after accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Turkey is also sending food and medicines to Qatar to help end its isolation. The state-run Anadolu Agency said a vessel carrying some 4,000 tons of food left the port of Izmir, western Turkey, on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Ankara fast-tracked a separate agreement to allow troops to be deployed at Turkey’s military base in Qatar.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has been one of the figures trying to forge a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed the economic and political isolation of Qatar as “inhumane and un-Islamic”.

Last year, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was the first foreign leader to phone Erdogan after a failed coup in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s navy carried out three days of joint training exercises with the US Navy last week. On Wednesday, June 14, Qatar announced an agreement to purchase F-15 fighter jets from the United States, in a deal worth $12 billion.