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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid