News / Middle East

Turkey Again Returns Fire After Syrian Mortar Attack

Smoke rises after a mortar bomb fired from Syria landed on Turkish soil on the Turkish-Syrian border in southern Hatay province, October 8, 2012.
Smoke rises after a mortar bomb fired from Syria landed on Turkish soil on the Turkish-Syrian border in southern Hatay province, October 8, 2012.
Edward YeranianMark Snowiss
Turkey launched a new retaliatory strike Monday after a mortar bomb fired from Syria hit the Turkish countryside as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of "extremely dangerous" fallout from the escalating border conflict.

Ban also said he is "deeply concerned" about the continuing flow of weapons to the Syrian government and opposition forces and the impact of the Syrian crisis on neighboring Lebanon. He reiterated calls for a political solution, which he said is the "only way" to resolve the crisis that began in March of last year.

The Turkish strike against Syrian positions for the sixth straight day came after a shell landed in a Turkish border area in southern Hatay province. The latest mortar round from Syria landed 150 meters within Turkey's border in the district of Hacipasa, according to Turkish officials.

VOA's Scott Bobb reports from the Turkish-Syria border that Turkish public opinion is generally against military action, especially a unilateral push from Ankara.

"Opinion polls show that a great many Turks oppose a military incursion into Syria," he said. "And there's even now some debate in parliament and among the political parties over just how much to get involved in this: 'is this dragging Turkey down, is this risking Turkish stability?'"

Bobb traveled through mostly rebel-held territory in northwest Syria on Monday and found opposition supporters - who have endured months of brutal conflict - clamoring for foreign help.

"Among the rebels and their supporters, they want intervention," he said. "They're asking why hasn't the international community done something to help us. We're being bombed and mortared and we have no defenses against aerial attacks."
Border towns in Turkey and SyriaBorder towns in Turkey and Syria
Border towns in Turkey and Syria
Border towns in Turkey and Syria

'Worst-case scenarios'

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Monday that "worst-case scenarios" were taking place in Syria and urged the international community to act.

As tensions simmered between the two neighbors, Syrian Information Minister Omran Zahbi said that Damascus is not responsible for security along the border.

Zahbi said Turkey and not Syria is responsible for keeping the peace along the border, because Ankara has allowed rebel fighters to set up bases and infiltrate into Syria in large numbers.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, said that while Syria may want to export its crisis to neighboring countries, he does not think that the mortar rounds over the border were fired to deliberately provoke a crisis.

"The Syrian Army is retaliating, mostly using mortars," Khashan said. "Mortars are not very accurate. I do not really believe the Syrians are trying to provoke the Turkish side.  You cannot avoid having one or another round falling on the Turkish border because most fighting occurs along the border."

More fighting

Syrian government forces continued to pound rebel-held territory in the flashpoint city of Homs and elsewhere across the country Monday in a military offensive which showed no signs of letting up.

Outer districts of the capital Damascus were hit from both the air and ground.

Rebel fighters also clashed with government forces in Idlib province near the Turkish border over control of several towns and villages.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported more than 60 people were killed Monday in clashes across Syria, including 20 in southern Daraa province when the army launched an intensive assault on the town of Karak.

The opposition group said Monday's death toll includes 31 unarmed civilians, 18 government troops and 11 rebel fighters.

Opposition to meet

As fighting continued, the head of Syria's opposition Syrian National Council, Abdulbaset Sieda, told Arab TV channels his group would soon meet in Qatar to discuss various political proposals.

Sieda said the council will consider all proposals on the table to unite efforts and work for a political transition, adding that officials who defected and have no blood on their hands are free to participate in the discussions.

Sieda said someone "who has been with the revolution since it began" should lead the transition.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotoglu proposed Vice President Farouk al Sharaa should lead an interim government.

Yeranian reported from Cairo and Snowiss from Washington

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
October 10, 2012 8:00 AM
The hypocrisy of Turkey is plain... why is Turkey allowed to attack Kurdish "rebels" in other countries but when they host rebels on their territory expect to be treated like a shy girl. NATO needs to back off, stop arming and supporting an insurgency which is going nowhere and find a political solution..

by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
October 09, 2012 6:41 AM
and so,if mortars from syria never landed in turkey,turkey wouldnt try to do something to help poor syrians but just wait for the west?..its now time turkish flotilla went into syria!!

by: Aqsa Mayor
October 08, 2012 1:15 PM
what happened to these countries so suddenly in few years ?libya,lebanon,jordan,yemen,iraq,afghanistan,syria,iran,turkey,pakistan,egypt all muslim states crossing through nightmares dragged into wars comparing to other countries who boosting all these mess what for ?

by: Dr. Malek Towghi (Baluch) from: USA
October 08, 2012 1:11 PM
Turkey is using the unfortunate Syrian refugees as hostages and a smoke screen. Why the Turks are not doing what the Jordanians, Lebanese and Iraqis have done: establishing the refugee camps in the interior away from the volatile borders? and not allowing any military activity in these camps ??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs