NATO backs Turkey as clashes continue
PRAGUE / ŞANLIURFA
Syrian jets hit the town of Ras al-Ayn, near Ceylanpınar, sending up plummets of black smoke. AA photo
NATO will defend alliance member Turkey, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said yesterday, after Syrian warplanes tore along the Turkish frontier and bombed the rebel-held town of Ras al-Ayn just meters inside the Syrian border.
“NATO as an organization will do whatever it takes to protect and defend Turkey, our ally. We have all plans in place to make sure that we can protect and defend Turkey and hopefully that way also deter, so that attacks on Turkey will not take place,” Rasmussen said.
On the ground, activists said 16 Syrian people died in the air strikes on Ras al-Ayn while one Turkish soldier and two civilians were wounded. Helicopters also attacked targets near the town, which fell to rebels last week.
One of the jets struck within meters of the barbed-wire fence that divides Ras al-Ayn from the Turkish town of Ceylanpınar, sending up plumes of black smoke and shattering shop windows.
“The ambulances are transporting the wounded non-stop,” he said. “There is bomb damage everywhere.” Upon the increasing violence along the border, Turkish fighter jets conducted an operation near the Syrian border. F-16 jets armed with ammunition took off from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır with an urgent mission to patrol Turkey’s border with Syria, Doğan news agency reported.
Ankara also issued a diplomatic note to Damascus after the latest violence on the border. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the Syrian jets did not violate Turkish air space but added that Turkey would respond if they did so.