News / Middle East

    Turkey Approves Possible Further Action Against Syria

    Lawmakers are seen during a debate at Turkey's parliament in Ankara, Oct. 4, 2012. Turkey fired on Syrian targets for a second day Thursday, but said it has no intention of declaring war, despite tensions after deadly shelling from Syria killed five civil
    Lawmakers are seen during a debate at Turkey's parliament in Ankara, Oct. 4, 2012. Turkey fired on Syrian targets for a second day Thursday, but said it has no intention of declaring war, despite tensions after deadly shelling from Syria killed five civil
    Dorian JonesMark Snowiss
    ISTANBUL/WASHINGTON — The Turkish parliament has approved a government motion to authorize further military operations outside the country's borders, after striking Syrian targets in response to a deadly cross-border mortar attack.

    The parliament easily passed a motion sanctioning military intervention into Syria, a constitutional requirement for the government. The move follows the deaths of five Turkish citizens by artillery fire from Syria on Wednesday.

    Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the one-year measure is not a declaration of war, but intended as a deterrent against aggressive action by Syria.

    Border towns in Turkey and SyriaBorder towns in Turkey and Syria
    x
    Border towns in Turkey and Syria
    Border towns in Turkey and Syria
    The Turkish army fired on Syrian army positions in response, and according to local reports launched further attacks Thursday on Syrian military installations.

    Atalay said Syria has taken responsibility and formally apologized for the deaths of the five Turkish civilians, and reassured the United Nations that "such an incident will not occur again."

    The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Ankara's retaliatory artillery strikes killed three Syrian soldiers near the border town of Tel Abyad. Syrian state media has not reported any casualties.

    Local news reports said at least 10 separate attacks early Thursday targeted the area that Turkish forces identified as the source of the Syrian mortars.

    U.N. urges restraint

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Turkey and Syria Thursday to exercise "maximum restraint" amid the rising tensions. Ban expressed "alarm" at the situation along the Syrian-Turkish border and called on both sides to "exert all efforts to move toward a political solution."

    Speaking in New York, Syria's U.N. envoy Bashar Jaafari urged "states and governments" to act wisely and rationally after the attack.

    Russia Thursday blocked the adoption of a draft U.N. statement condemning the deadly Syrian mortar attack and proposed a weaker text that would call for "restraint" on the border without referring to breaches of international law.

    Retired Turkish military leader Haldun Solmazturk said the border lines between Syria and Turkey are often blurred and Syria's on-going conflict sometimes spills across the lines.

    "What we call a border in this region is just a simple fence going through neighborhoods, villages," he said. "Similar accidents can happen anytime despite the fact that Syria will do its best to avoid [them]."
     
    The Turkish army is sending reinforcements to the Syria border.

    Ankara has increased forces on the 900-kilometer frontier since a Turkish warplane was shot down in June by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

    No political consensus in Turkey

    But there is not a political consensus in Turkey for a large-scale military action against Syria.

    The main opposition Republican People's Party voted against the government motion in parliament, and according to opinion polls the Turkish public is also strongly opposed.

    Political scientist Cengiz Aktar, of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University, said in a few hours there has been economic fallout from the cross-border volleys.
     
    "It already had quite a negative impact on the equity and foreign markets," he said. "Turkey is entering quite a difficult period economically speaking and I do not think they will want to add more expenditure to their already very strained budgets."

    The Turkish government has in the past said it would not intervene unilaterally in Syria.  But it is finding little international support for intervention from the United Nations or NATO.  Following Syria's shelling, Turkey's allies condemned Syria and called for restraint.  

    Turkish analyst Sinan Ulgen said Ankara has been generally disappointed by international response to the Syrian crisis.
     
    "Turkey feels it has been left alone to deal with crisis on Syria," he said. "The international community, despite having engaged in the rhetoric of the responsibility to protect, did not live up to the bargain."

    Turkey's military stretched

    Analysts say Turkish forces may not be able to carry out a full-scale military operation against Syria on its own.

    While its forces are much larger and more modernized than Syrian forces, the Turkish military is battling Kurdish insurgents and also has jailed hundreds of high-level officers.

    More than 300 army officers were convicted last month of conspiring against the government.

    "So this could be the worst set of conditions under which [to go] to war with Syria," said former military leader Solmazturk.

    In Syria on Thursday, opposition activists said Syrian rebels killed 21 elite Republican Guards in Damascus province in an ambush on an army minibus.

    Separately, troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shelled the northern city of Aleppo, a day after a series of explosions killed 48 people there.

    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 As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Michael from: USA
    October 04, 2012 10:07 PM
    Followers of military strategy stick to what wins. In this Turkey has opened a Pandora's box

    by: Perlovcraft from: Vietnam
    October 04, 2012 9:40 PM
    Two sides should restrain before that is too late. If the war occur , the resident will be miserable...

    by: Paogulou Ikran from: Turkey
    October 04, 2012 6:42 PM
    Western media say that "Turkey can't win full scale war against Syria" well let me tell you that Turkey will easily devastate Syria Iraq and Iran combined!!! we will send them back to the stone age and as to Iran and Hizbullah let me tell you Turkey is not Israel... we will slaughter you

    by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
    October 04, 2012 5:05 PM
    Escalation of Turkish-Syrian clashes will inevitably force Russia to join the melee. The Islamist Turkey should not be allowed to trigger a Third World War. Before it is too late, the NATO should disown the Turkish attacks on Syria, and should also warn Turkey NOT to sabotage the limited autonomy the Kurds of Syria have gained.

    Now that it is clear that the fall of the Assad Regime will inevitably be followed by the establishment of an anti-West Salafi-Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria, it is time for the West to take it easy.
    In Response

    by: James from: USA
    October 05, 2012 6:18 PM
    WOW you must have never met a Turk before, Turkey is not an Islamist state. Second how can nato kick out its second strongest military? third Russia and Turkey have free visa passes for tourism, and Russia makes billions selling oil to turkey. You think they would risk this?
    In Response

    by: kAlimullah niazi from: Mochh Tajeykhel mianwali
    October 05, 2012 7:45 AM
    Though Muslim world wants to change the regime in Syria but we do not want to scatter this war to any Muslim country.

    by: cgawhite from: Canada
    October 04, 2012 12:11 PM
    Your photo caption is very poorly written. For starters, all tanks are armoured. Second: that isn't a tank.
    In Response

    by: Nathan
    October 04, 2012 2:55 PM
    Gonna have to back up CGAWhite on this one.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.