The situation between Syria and Turkey escalated today, as Turkey continued its attack on targets inside Syria and the Turkish parliament gave the OK for military action outside its borders.
As we reported, Turkey is retaliating for a rocket attack that killed five civilians yesterday. The development is important because it could mean the conflict between rebels and the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad has now become regional.
The New York Times has more details on today’s attacks:
“Local news reports said Turkish shells fell inside Syria on at least 10 occasions after midnight, landing near the border town of Tel Abyad, some six miles inside Syrian territory, across a historic fault line where modern Turkey abuts Arab lands that once formed part of the Ottoman Empire. …
“The exchanges sent tremors across a region fearful that the mounting violence in Syria will spill into neighboring countries. Ibrahim Kalin, a senior aide to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in a Twitter feed: ‘Turkey does not want war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary.’ In a separate message, he said: ‘Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue.'”
CNN reports that Russia, one of Syria’s last remaining allies, called for restraint.
“Through our ambassador to Syria, we have spoken to the Syrian authorities who assured us … that what happened at the border with Turkey was a tragic accident, and that it will not happen again,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said according to CNN. “We think it is of fundamental importance for Damascus to state that officially.”
Jonathan Marcus, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, reports that the retaliation as well as the emergency NATO meeting called yesterday “represent a final warning to the authorities in Damascus – a signal that Turkey’s patience has worn thin.”
Marcus, however, says that neither NATO nor Turkey seem to want a protracted war with Syria, but another attack on Turkey could result in a stiffer response. Remember, tensions between the two country were already tense, especially after Syria shot down a Turkish warplane in June.
Update at 7:58 a.m. ET. Parliament OKs Military Operations:
Reuters reports that Turkey’s parliament has approved cross-border military operations, if they are deemed necessary by the government.