Turks OK military action across line
ISTANBUL — Stepping up its response to a deadly mortar attack from Syria, the Turkish government on Thursday easily won blanket approval from Parliament for military operations outside its territory as its military shelled targets across the border for a second day.
The two moves suggested that Turkey is preparing to take a more aggressive stance against Syria as a result of an assault on Wednesday in which mortar shells killed a woman, three of her children and a neighbor in the Turkish border town of Akcakale, where rebels seeking to topple the government of President Bashar Assad recently had seized the Syrian side of the crossing point.
“This was not the first attack of Syria against Turkey,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later told a news conference. “There were seven other attacks made by Syria on Turkey in recent times.”
Syria apologized for the assault and promised that it would not be repeated, according to Turkey's deputy prime minister, Besir Atalay. But Erdogan said another mortar round fired from Syria fell on Thursday on the town of Altinozou in Hatay province, where the city of Antakya has become a center for the Syrian rebel movement. It was unclear whether rebel and Syrian forces were clashing nearby. Altinozou is 250 miles west of Akcakale.
“They say it is an accident, a mistake,” Erdogan said. “What kind of accident is this that happens eight times?”
The Obama administration endorsed the Turkish moves as proportional, appropriate and intended to deter, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. But the international community remained deadlocked after Syria's closest ally, Russia, blocked efforts at the United Nations to issue a statement condemning the Syrian shelling.
Syria's U.N. representative, Bashir Ja'afri, said his government sympathized with those killed. But he said Turkey, which has long provided support and refuge for anti-Assad rebels, bore part of the blame for failing to heed repeated calls to close the border to infiltration by rebel groups and arms shipments.
The Parliament's support for future military operations outside the border raised the prospect of a war between the Turkish and Syrian governments, which were once friendly but have been openly hostile over the past year as Assad violently suppressed what had started as a peaceful opposition movement and has become a full uprising against him. The Parliament's action would allow Turkey to move against Kurdish separatist forces that have taken shelter in Syria's Kurdish region.
Erdogan denied that Turkey was seeking a wider conflict with its neighbor. “We could never be interested in something like starting a war,” he said.
But he added that Turkey would protect its citizens and its borders, and “no one should try and test our determination in that regard.”
How far Turkey will press the matter remains to be seen, however. With U.S. backing and support from NATO, Turkey could use the confrontation to employ its ground, artillery and air forces in carving a buffer zone inside Syria that it has sought to cope with the 90,000 Syrian refugees who have flooded into Turkey in recent months.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- 10 awesome things you didn’t know your phone could do
- UPMC to mandate flu shots for some employees
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Squabbling over money continues in ‘kids for cash’ civil suit
- $1.5 million Allentown church fire started by roofers, officials say
- Young adults drive home rental trend in Western Pennsylvania
- Retired state trooper settles lawsuit over racial harassment complaint
- New Ken-Arnold board asked to mediate between football groups
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- Moon man arrested on child porn charges