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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More