Venezuela launches a major military operation along its border with Colombia to protect its national sovereignty, Vice President Ramon Carrizales says.
Carrizales, who is also Venezuela's Defense Minister, said operation 'Sentinel' will involve the National Guard and three branches of the armed forces, along the entire 2,219-kilometer (1,379-mile) border with Colombia.
The objective, he told a public television channel, is to fight crime, including drug trafficking, and to protect 'national sovereignty'.
Operation 'Sentinel' follows Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez', warning on Sunday that he would respond to any Colombian military incursion, after Bogota said it would pursue Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas even across the border into neighboring countries.
Carrizales said that from Friday, he would visit all border military posts to hear their commander's views and suggestions.
Colombia and Venezuela nearly came to blows a year ago after Colombia bombed a FARC rebel base inside Ecuador, Venezuela's ally in the region.
Both countries reinforced their border areas with troops but stopped short of military action.