Possible Syria attack on Turkey unlikely: Gül
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Syrian refugee students wait to enter class at a refugee camp in Kilis. Since last year, nearly 200,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey. REUTERS photo
Syria’s staging of an attack on Turkey would be “madness” but Turkey will take all necessary measures, President Abdullah Gül said yesterday.
“I do not presume much that an open threat or danger can be directed from Syria toward Turkey at this moment, because that would be madness,” Gül told Ankara media bureau chiefs yesterday. “But when it’s about security, one should take even minimal risks into consideration.”
“The integrity of [NATO] security is indivisible. NATO has no understanding of partial security and [the deployment of Patriots] is among contingency plans. They have no offensive purposes but rather are defensive. It’s to minimize all risks,” he said, regarding the deployment of Patriots along Turkey’s Syria border.
Gül’s statement came at a moment when a NATO delegation was still surveying potential sites on which the Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems could be deployed. Turkey officially requested the deployment of Patriot systems last week, a move expected to be approved by the allies next week.
Spain recognizes opposition
A NATO delegation continued its investigation in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır, examining the Second Tactical Air Forces Command. The group visited Malatya on Nov. 28 and examined several sites there as well. NATO should have informed Russia about the motives behind the deployment of the Patriots, Gül said, adding that he hoped information provided to Russia would eliminate Moscow’s concerns.
On the diplomatic front, Spain announced its recognition of the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, boosting the opposition’s bid to win widespread support for its campaign to topple the Syrian president. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy invited the head of the group, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, to visit Spain.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels battled forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad just outside Damascus, forcing the closure of the main airport road and the Dubai-based Emirates airline to suspend flights to the Syrian capital.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting along the road to the airport, southeast of Damascus, was heavier than at any other time so far in the 20-month uprising against al-Assad.
Residents said Internet connections in the capital went down in the early afternoon and mobile and land telephone lines were only working intermittently, in what they said was the worst disruption of communication since the conflict erupted last year.
Emirates said it was suspending daily flights to Damascus “until further notice.” EgyptAir has also cancelled its today’s flight to Damascus.
Additionally, an air strike on two buildings in the commercial capital of Aleppo killed at least 15 civilians, including five children and two women, activists said.