ISTANBUL, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Some Turks have suggested enlisting Syrian refugees for the Turkish armed forces, as the death toll is growing for Turkish troops on mission in northern Syria.
An online campaign was launched lately, calling for recruiting Syrian men in Turkey who are aged between 18 to 45 and sending them to the battlefield.
As many as 260,000 Turks have signed on the petition within days, which will be sent to the Turkish General Staff for consideration when the figure hits 300,000.
Last week, 17 Turkish soldiers were killed in three suicide bomb attacks by the Islamic State (IS) militants in the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, bringing the total number of Turkish deaths to 37 since Ankara launched what it called Euphrates Shield Operation on Aug. 24 in Syria's north.
The military offensive is aiming chiefly at preventing the Syrian Kurds from seizing more land for an autonomous region or worse, an independent state, along the border with Turkey.
The Turkish troops and Ankara-backed Syrian rebels are trying now to take al-Bab from the IS, with next targets being Manbij and Raqqa, the de-facto IS capital, as announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday.
As the news of more Turkish deaths broke, Turkish columnist Yilmaz Ozdil became one of the most vocal in denouncing the Syrian refugees being sheltered in Turkey.
In an article published in the Turkish daily Sozcu last week, Ozdil chided the Syrian men living in Turkey for "doing nothing for their country."
"These people, instead of protecting their own country, are having fun in our country," he wrote.
According to the columnist, there are almost 500,000 Syrian men on Turkish soil, who are in a position to hold a gun.
Some three million Syrians have fled to Turkey since Syria was plunged into chaos in March 2011.
Turkish citizens, brought up with a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism, are having difficulties in understanding Syrians who have fled their home country.
For Turks, men should join the military to "defend their country to death."
While voicing concerns on social media over the growing deaths in Turkish troops in Syria, Turks vented their anger as well on the Syrian men living in Turkey for keeping mute.
Most declared the Syrian men of military age who fled their country as traitors.
"Those who sold their own country will sell Turkey anyway," said a post on Twitter.
A taxi driver in Istanbul vowed not to leave his country even if he would be in the same situation some day as the Syrian men.
"I will have a gun and fight till the end," he said.
For Hakan Erol, an Istanbul-based journalist, it would be too optimistic to expect those Syrians to fight in their country under the Turkish command.
"They have already fled their country," he said. "Who could guarantee that they wouldn't leave us in the lurch?"
Cem Ulusoy, a restaurant owner, does not believe either it is a good idea to draft Syrians into the Turkish military.
"The Syrians will have conflicting feelings about what exactly they may be fighting for in the Turkish army, therefore creating a faction of 'confused troops' who might be too hard to control in the future," he remarked.
Abdullah Agar, a security analyst, described the debate as meaningless, noting "Being a Turkish citizen is the first prerequisite for joining in the military."
In his view, Turkey is already doing what is necessary for those Syrians who want to return to their homeland and join in the struggle.
"We are giving all the necessary military training for these people and anytime they want, they can join the Free Syrian Army and fight in the war zones," he said. "But if the social expectation would rise even further, then the Turkish parliament has the authority to take a step and Syrian people could be granted a dual citizenship."
In the view of Mete Aktas, a sport commentator, the public debate is normal "as Turkey has been overloaded by Syrian refugees."
"The important thing is to be able to control these anti-Syrian sentiments," he said.