Meanwhile, we had cross-border acts of war administered yesterday between a NATO ally and their neighbor. Turkey struck with artillery strikes on Syria yesterday, after one of their border towns was hit with a mortar, killing 5 Turks. This has the potential to escalate very quickly.
Turkey stepped up retaliatory artillery strikes on a Syrian border town on Thursday, killing several Syrian soldiers, while its parliament debated authorizing further military action in the event of another spillover of the Syrian conflict.
Syria’s staunch ally Russia said it had received assurances from Damascus that the mortar strike had been a tragic accident and would not happen again and Syria’s Information Minister conveyed his condolences to the Turkish people.
But Turkey’s government said “aggressive action” against its territory by Syria’s military had become a serious threat to its national security and sought parliamentary approval for the deployment of Turkish troops beyond its borders.
“Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary,” Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account.
The shelling has been a problem between Syria and Turkey for a while. There are lots of Syrian rebels near the border, and at times Syria has accused Turkey of harboring rebel elements. Turkey has denied this and defended its territory.
NATO has gotten involved in this as well, calling the strike a “flagrant breach of international law” and added that Syria represents “a clear and present danger to the security of one of its Allies,” in other words NATO member Turkey. Earlier, after a Syrian airstrike inside Turkey, the Turks threatened to take their complaint to NATO, invoking Article 5 and forcing a coalition response. The Pentagon also condemned the Syrian cross-border shelling.
Antiwar protesters did march in Turkey, calling on an end to the violence, but they were met with tear gas.
Syria’s civil war continues, with scores of dead in bombings in Aleppo, their largest city, yesterday.
I don’t believe this will escalate beyond a few bombs dropping on either side of the border, but the potential exists for NATO allies to exploit this aggression as a means to spark a military intervention in Syria.