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17 April 2014, Thursday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 

Turkey authorizes military operations in Syria, says no intention of war

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THE TURKISH PARLIAMENT CONVENED ON THURSDAY TO VOTE ON A MOTION THAT COULD AUTHORIZE MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA IF THE GOVERNMENT DEEMS IT NECESSARY. (PHOTO: CIHAN)
4 October 2012, Thursday /TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES
A day after mortar shells from Syria killed five civilians in a border town, the government received on Thursday a mandate from Parliament for military operations in foreign countries but said it had no intention to go to war with Syria.

“This is not a war mandate. It is a measure for deterrence,” Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay told reporters after Parliament passed the measure with a 320-129 vote, stating that Turkey's priority is to act in coordination with international institutions.

Atalay also said Syria had apologized for the Wednesday afternoon incident after UN mediation to that effect and that Damascus also said the incident will not be repeated. It was not clear if the Syrian authorities offered the apology in a bilateral contact. On Wednesday evening, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said an investigation was launched to determine the source of the mortar bomb and offered his "sincerest condolences on behalf of the Syrian government to the families of the deceased and the Turkish people," reportedly calling the Turkish civilians “martyrs.” He also said, however, that Turkey must do more to control its borders and "prevent militants and terrorists from sneaking across."

In a sharp escalation of tensions, the Turkish military fired at targets inside Syria on Wednesday night and early on Thursday in retaliatory strikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several Syrian soldiers were killed in the Turkish bombardment of a military post near the Syrian town of Tal Abyad, a few miles across the frontier from the town of Akçakale where the mortar bomb landed. It did not say how many soldiers died. "We know that they have suffered losses," a Turkish security source told Reuters, without giving further details.

Atalay suggested the retaliatory strikes might have ended, saying: “We used our rights to retaliate. This is where we stand now.”

"Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary," İbrahim Kalın, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said on his Twitter account. "Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue," he said.

Despite the government promises that it does not amount to a declaration of war, the parliamentary measure authorizing the government for military operations beyond Turkey's borders opens the way for military measures in addition to the retaliatory strikes.

There were unconfirmed reports in the Syrian media that the Turkish military hit targets in Idlib, far from the scene of Wednesday's incident. A statement from Prime Minister Erdoğan's office said targets in Syria that were spotted by radar were targeted but did not say where the targets were located.

There were also disconcerting reports that mortar bombs from Syria landed in Hatay province on the border. The bombs were fired as fighting rages between opposition forces and the Syrian army in the province of Idlib on the other side of the border.

Drafted at a late Wednesday meeting, which was headed by Erdoğan after a mortar bomb fired from Syria killed two women and three children in the town of Akçakale, the motion says: “The ongoing crisis in Syria affects stability and security in the region and now the escalating animosity affects our national security. Syrian armed forces have been conducting assaults as part of military operations onto Turkish land despite our several warnings and diplomatic overtures since Sept. 20, 2012. This situation threatens our national security. In this respect, the need for taking precautions and acting quickly against any threats to Turkey has arisen. In the framework of the situation, under Article 92 of the Turkish Constitution, we kindly ask Parliament to discuss a motion that authorizes the government for a year to send Turkish troops into foreign countries."

The opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which voted against the measure, said it could be used to launch war on any country given that it does not specify in what instances this parliamentary authority could be used. However, officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said it would be limited to Syria. The motion allows the government to determine “the scope, extent and time” of any possible intervention. Nurettin Canikli, deputy parliamentary group chairman for the AK Party, clarified that the measure would not cover anti-terrorism operations in northern Iraq and that a separate motion to extend a mandate to launch cross-border strikes on terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) targets will still be debated in Parliament on Thursday.

The vote, in favor of the measure, followed a closed-door session of Parliament. Opposition parties slammed the decision to hold closed discussions, while Canikli defended it, saying the government's concerns are not about sharing information with the Turkish public but that an open session would mean the debate would be heard by the rest of the world. “There could be certain things that we might need to hide not from our people but others,” he said.

“This nation will send its children to war, but does not know why it is sending its children to war,” said Muharrem İnce, a CHP lawmaker, before Parliament voted to hold the session behind closed doors.

The prompt retaliatory strikes and the swift passage of the parliamentary motion have sparked worries that a war with Syria could be imminent despite government assurances that it is not. Analysts and opposition lawmakers say Turkey could find itself in a war that involves not only Syria but could even drag in its backers, ranging from Iran to Russia.

Iran's support for the Syrian regime, which counters Turkish, Qatari and Saudi Arabian backing of the opposition as well as that of other countries, has raised worries about increasing sectarianism and the spread of the conflict. Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi spoke with Erdoğan on Thursday afternoon as part of a previously planned visit to Turkey. The sharp escalation in tension with Syria was expected to be discussed.

According to Yalçın Akdoğan, a legislator and adviser to Erdoğan, “military targets” in Syria were shelled as a deterrent and what “will follow from now on will depend on Syria's position.”

The Turkish retaliatory shelling and steps to authorize a possible military intervention mark the latest in a series of events that have sharply escalated tensions between the former allies.

In June, Turkey sent anti-aircraft missiles to reinforce its border and threatened to target any approaching Syrian military elements after Syrian forces brought down a Turkish jet, killing its two pilots. Turkey said the plane was in international airspace, countering Syrian claims that it was in Syrian airspace.

Syrian opposition groups have been using Turkish territory as a base for their operations against the troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Thousands have died and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes since the start of the war in Syria last year.

 
 
COMMENTS
Baris, it seems that Russia and Iran both for different reasons have an investment in keeping Assad, or at least the ruling group in power. Both have been covertly involved, the former with high tech weapons, particularly surface to air systems and the latter with advice and boots on the ground. As ...
Shaun
Shaun, I agree with what you said. I believe the latest incident, and possibly the F4 incident, has a deeper aim than just distraction. It is clear that the regime in Syria cannot survive without outside help. If Syria can draw Turkey into armed retaliation, then Russia and Iran in particular, and t...
Baris
No intention to war! is this the last turkish joke? Someone has to remind Ankara that Syria is not Northern occupied Cyprus!...
Araratian
TO Rise up ?... dont have any idea what the word "garbaga" means..sorry , and didnt know that Israel occupys gaza
steven
No one has addressed what the Syria might get from an attack on Turkish civilians near to the border. The Turkish aircraft that was shot down was probably on an intelligence gathering mission, in any event there were no scruples by the regime who simply shot it down, knowing full well what it was. T...
Shaun
@Steven. Turkey is not occupying Syria or bombing Syria on a regular basis, however Israel is occupying Palestine and killing Palestinians on a register basis. Now take your garbaga bias propaganda out of here.
rise up
Great resolution, and in the mean time the first Turkish businesses in Antakya go bankrupt. Many others will follow. Great foreign policy, zero problems wherever we look, and as always it is the Turks who pay the price for it.
erol
Turkish government is fully responsible for approx 30,000 killed so far in Syria by harboring terrorists and pushing them inside Syria.
SA
Mr. Erdogan is giving the wrong message by saying no intention of war, than what is this all about, rhetoric is not good it may come back and haunt Turkey, the mandate from Parliament for military operations would not stop Syria to attack, from the begining it was known that these mortar attacks we...
Raffi
Surprise. Turkey is angry that Syria launched a mortar killing a family of 5 (women and children). Really a surprise! Surprise. Turkey's parliament decided it has the right to launch war acts if needed. Surprise. Surprise. Turkey attacked beyond the borders in retaliation. Surprise! Israel find its...
Tannenbaum Nad
Obviously that Syria would not want to initiate war with Turkey as she is already quite occupied in fighting. Then who and why? Turkey government probably does not want to initiate a direct conflict with Syria either although indirectly doing so with NATO and Saudis etc.. As reported by the Australi...
Sir Percy
it could have been a deliberate attack by some rouge army officer who from his heart is against Assad to create a war between Syriaand Turkey he may be an agent of Israel or Qatar???????
masuma
@Mehmet..... Well said well said, but please tell us why didn't your "strong Turkey" retaliate against Israel with the Mavi marmara incident? I mean that was a great insult to every Turk but still nothing happened, how come? Your PM started shouting and saying this and that but the matter closed an...
Usee
Shelling Turkish territory is an act of war. Turkey is well within it's right to retaliate. Assad has gotten away with enough already, and further weakness on our part will only embolden him more.
Mehmet
Sad as it is the loss of human life But just look how Turkey reacted to one single shell falling in it's terterritory, but critisizes Israel from reacting whilst thousands of rockets have landed in Israel fired by the palestinians in Gaza...typical double standards...
steven
I just wonder how many Turks died on Turkey's roads on that day? Turkey would be better off focusing on improving her roads than being pushed into a war with Syria or killing some Syrians in revenge. Why would Syria deliberately provoke Turkey? Moreover, even if Syria was responsible, retaliation is...
Baran
Turkey thinks this is going to be a cakewalk... Think again... we will see your "vaziet" next year this time when your "kahraman" army will be destroyed inside Syrian territory.
Syrian National
Well done turkey ! Well done that you follow your master Israels plan very well. Most of the commenters give me the joy of knowing how backward Turks are in geopolitical knowledge. I'm so happy turkey will go to war with Syria honestly, this way turkey will sign it's own death certificate you will a...
Usee
God bless Turkey! God bless the Free Syrian Army! Turkey and Arabs are one fist. If Turkey needs to enter Syria it will be welcomed by the Sunni Arab majority and condemned only by the Ayatollah lovers in the region and the world.
Ahmed; Aleppo, Syria
Assad needs to be educated the Turkish way that if you cause Turkey problems by killings its citizens, you will face the consequences.
Metin
I see a strong possibility that Mossad agents or their tools inside Syria might be behind shelling Turkey from Syria. Turkey and Syria (and the rest of the pathetic world), once again, would play into the hands of the most criminal nation on the face of this earth.
Ugur
Welcome to the quagmire.Muslems killing muslims.
VTiger
Finally Turkey is doing something to save the scores of children being murdered out there. Don't stop until you liberate Damascus!
Amit Michaeli
Turkey not wait for next Attack from syrian regime please save your people. Start necessary action into syria for to avoid future attack from syrian Regime. If again Syrian attack into Turkey thay will blame tell lie.and made any other type story.
kumail Ahmed Ansari
Turkish Parliament passes Syria retaliation motion but syrian already planed a story is that rebel capture tank from syria regime if next time same repeat from regime than thay put cridet to reble for any future attack. already syrian regime loses control from most of the appolo city to save them ...
kumail Ahmed Ansari
This is the 1st step to a NEW Ottoman Empire
Raffi
Further patient is required but more importantly retaliation should be proportional and direct. Communication with Syria should be open channels all the time. Those responsible for the accident should be accountable and handed over otherwise "sorry" a word has no value, accountability must be given....
Senol
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