Crisis escalates as Turkey approves attacks on Syria

Turkish parliament gives go ahead to deployment of troops in Syria following deadly cross-border mortar attack

LAST UPDATED AT 13:00 ON Thu 4 Oct 2012

THE TURKISH parliament has approved military action, including the deployment of troops, against its neighbour Syria following a mortar attack by Bashar al-Assad’s troops yesterday which killed a Turkish woman and her four children.

Earlier, the Turkish army fired artillery rounds into Syria in retaliation for the stray mortar shell, which hit the border town of Akcakale. Turkey described the incident as an “atrocious attack” and said it had killed several Syrian soldiers in retaliation by firing “on points in Syria that were detected with radar, in line with the rules of engagement”.

Akcakale has suffered accidental attack a number of times over the past 10 days and more than 100 schools have been closed in the region as a safety precaution. Syrian government troops are engaged in a desperate battle with rebels for control of the nearby Tel Abyad border post.

The Times says the Turkish attack marks a "dramatic escalation" in the Syrian civil war. Stray rounds from Syria have caused casualties in Turkey before, and Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet in June, but this is the first time Turkey has fired back.

Turkey immediately requested an emergency meeting of Nato members in Brussels. The defence bloc later issued a statement saying it "continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law".

Ankara also requested that the United Nations Security Council take "necessary action" to stop "Syrian aggression".

Syria promised to investigate the attack and its information minister said: "Syria offers its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to our friends the Turkish people."

The BBC's Jim Muir says Nato's words of support are unlikely to translate into joint intervention into the Syrian crisis, adding that now Turkey had "vented its anger" the flare-up might die away. However, "the incident will further envenom an already bitterly antagonistic relationship, creating further grudges that may find eventual expression".

The Daily Telegraph says that despite the parliamentary approval for military action against Syria, there is so far no indication that they will actually use force against the Syrian regime.

“Ibrahim Kalin, an adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, insisted that Turkey had no interest in a war with Syria and was ‘protecting its borders’,” says the paper.

“But Mr Erdogan has been pressing for western backing for a ‘safe zone’ in northern Syria.” · 

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