News / Middle East

Turkey, Syria Tensions Rise After Attack on Pilgrims

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan chats with Head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Gormez (R) during the summit of religious leaders from Muslim countries and communities in Africa at the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Nov
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan chats with Head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Gormez (R) during the summit of religious leaders from Muslim countries and communities in Africa at the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Nov

Tensions between former close allies and neighbors Turkey and Syria continue to escalate as Syrian forces are being accused of attacking a bus of Turkish pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia on Monday. The incident comes as the Turkish prime minister launched another verbal condemnation of Syria.

Two Turkish citizens were wounded when a convoy of buses carrying pilgrims in northern Syria were attacked by gunmen, furthering tensions between Syria and Turkey. Pictures of the bus with numerous bullet holes in it were broadcast on Turkish media. The affiliation of the gunmen is not clear.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the end is coming for the Syrian leadership and its forces, who have led the government's eight-month-long crackdown on opposition protests.

Mr. Erdogan said Syria's leaders can remain in power with tanks and cannons only up to a certain point. He said the day will come when they will also leave.

The attack is the latest incident in a growing diplomatic divide. Last week, Syrian protestors attacked several Turkish diplomatic missions, resulting in the evacuations of diplomatic families.

Ankara has been playing a leading role in helping the Syrian opposition, hosting some key leaders and defectors from the Syrian military who are now spearheading a militia effort in Syria known as the Syria Free Army.

But there is growing concern in Turkey over Ankara's leading role against Syria. International relations professor Murat Bilhan, a former official in the Turkish Foreign Ministry, says tensions with Syria are making some in the Turkish armed forces nervous.

But the Syrian opposition is increasingly looking to Ankara to take a more active role against Damascus. The leaders of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood last week called for Turkey to enforce a buffer zone in Syria to protect opponents of the government.

Bassma Kodmani, a leader with the opposition Syrian National Council, says creating safe haven areas in Syria is vital.

"We know that there are very strong demands for the establishing [of] safe havens, for the civilian population to take refuge," said Kodmani. "Therefore, the pressure is on the Arab League, neighboring countries and international parties to consider the option for the protection of civilians."

For now though, Ankara has ruled out any direct intervention, preferring to join a growing international tide of sanctions and economic curbs against the Syrian government.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs