4 October 2012, 15:29

Syria and Turkey on brink of war

Syria and Turkey on brink of war

The UN and NATO have condemned an incident of shelling across the Syrian-Turkish border. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Turkey not to break ties with Syria. NATO supports Turkey, but a collective military response to Syria’s action will not follow.

Turkey has asked the UN Security Council to take “necessary action” to stop Syrian “aggression”. A mother of a large family and her four children were killed and another 13 injured on Wednesday when a mortar shell fired from Syria hit a house in the border region of Akcakale.

Ankara believes that the attack was carried out by a Syrian military unit. In response, Turkey launched attacks on the Syrian territory from where the mortar attack was supposed to have been carried out. Syria’s Information Minister Omran Zoabi has expressed sincere condolences to the Turkish families of the victims and to the Turkish people. He confirmed that Damascus was determined to maintain peaceful relations with the Turkish people. He also noted that several terrorist groups had been operating in the border region, and their activity had posed a threat not only to Syria but also to security of the entire region.

In response to Turkey’s request, the NATO Council held an emergency meeting that fully supported Turkey and urged the Syrian regime to put an end to any aggressive actions immediately. At the same time, according to the Western press, it’s too early to say about the application of the 5th article of the Washington Treaty that provides for exercising the right for collective response by all NATO member countries in case of an armed attack on a member country.

The article was recalled in June when Syria’s air defence systems shot down a Turkish fighter jet. However, matters didn’t come to that.

At present, according to NATO sources, consultations are being held on the basis of information provided by Turkey. The sources insist that it’s too early to speculate on a possible collective response.

However, it’s not excluded that the Turkish army will receive a mandate to carry out operations on Syrian territory on Thursday. Here is a report from our special correspondent in Turkey Olga Khaldyz.

“Permission to carry out military operations outside Turkey will expire on the 17th of October. The Turkish parliament extends it annually to carry out special operations against militants of the Kurdish Workers Party. On Thursday, the parliament will hold an emergency session that will most likely discuss the issue of granting permission to the Turkish army to carry out operations also on Syrian territory,” Olga Khaldyz said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tyyip Erdogan made this request Wednesday night. He insisted on the need to respond timely and swiftly and taking necessary measures against risks and threats to national security.

On his part, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Ankara to keep channels of communications with Damascus open. They are necessary to ease tension triggered by the incident of shelling.

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