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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

UN Tackles Illicit Wildlife Poaching Amid Cecil the Lion Uproar

The 193-member General Assembly adopts its first resolution on the issue following a two-year campaign by Germany and Gabon More

Trump Tops Poll as Rivals Battle to Make Debate

Donald Trump jumps into a big lead in Republican presidential race, according to latest poll More

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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs