Editor’s Note – Turkey, a NATO nation, and one time friend to Syria, is ratcheting up the rhetoric. The sabers are not rattling verbally, but their actions and mobilization speaks volumes. What the response by Turkey will be to recent Syrian aggression in the air will be is unknown, but suffice it to say – stay tuned, the summer is getting hotter.
What happens next effects many and involves Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Turkey to name a few. It could embroil much more – even outside the region, especially economically as nations teeter on the edge of collapse. A major conflagration there would spell ill the world over.
Furious Turkey mobilizes tanks, troops to Syrian border
Erdogan slams ‘murderous’ Assad, warns Damascus that rules of engagement have changed following downing of its jet
By ILAN BEN ZION and HILLARY ZAKEN and AP
The Turkish military mobilized large numbers of reinforcements from its eastern provinces to the Syrian border on Tuesday, amid rising tension with Damascus, after the downing by Syria of a Turkish Air Force jet on Friday, Turkish media reported.
Large numbers of Turkish troops — including at least 15 long-range artillery pieces and tanks – moved to the Syrian frontier from the eastern city of Diyarbakir. A video published by the Turkish Cihan News Agency showed Turkish tanks being transported by carrier trucks toward the frontier.
The mobilization followed statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the Turkish military will respond to any future violation of its border by Syrian military elements.
“As awe-inspiring as Turkey’s friendship is, Turkey’s wrath is equally awe-inspiring,” Erdogan told the Turkish parliament on Tuesday.
“The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed,” Erdogan said. “Any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria posing a security risk and danger will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target.”
Erdogan closed his remarks with an especially harsh condemnation of Syrian President Bashar Assad: “Turkey and the Turkish people will continue to provide all support until the people of Syria have been saved from this tyrannical, murderous, bloody dictator and his gang.”
Opposition sources in Syria reported at least 86 civilians were killed by Assad troops on Tuesday.
The father of one of the two missing pilots who were shot down in Friday’s incident told Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News that he opposed Turkey going to war over his son.
“It is not appropriate for a country to go to war over a pilot, an airplane or 50 airplanes,” Ali Erton said. He said he was aware of the risks his son took as a military pilot, but added “what matters is that my son serves his country.”
NATO’s North Atlantic Council condemned Tuesday Syria’s downing of the Turkish jet on Friday, but did not recommend military action for the act, as Ankara has requested.
At an emergency meeting, requested by Turkey and chaired by NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the council clearly denounced Syria’s aggression “in the strongest terms,” calling the shooting down of a Turkish jet over the Mediterranean “unacceptable.”
“It is another example of the Syrian disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life,” said the NATO chief, expressing his solidarity with Turkey, but making no mention of retaliatory action.
Read the rest here.
Turkey to help ‘liberate the Syrians from dictatorship’
By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com
Turkey’s prime minister said Tuesday that his country would offer all possible support “to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship,” as NATO condemned Syria for shooting down a Turkey military jet.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey – a member of NATO – had changed the rule of engagement for its military and would now respond to any violation of the Syrian border.
Turkey would not engage in war-mongering, but the attack on the reconnaissance jet, which was deliberately targeted, would not be left unanswered, Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling AK Party deputies in parliament.
“However valuable Turkey’s friendship is, its wrath is just as strong. Don’t take our common sense and cautious approach as a sign of passivity,” Erdogan said, according to Turkish newspaper Zaman.
“The Syrian administration is tyrannical and not just. Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime is in place,” he added. “Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime arrives.”
“We will offer all the possible support to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship,” Erdogan said.
Read more here.