Syria hit on border town fuels tension
CEYLANPINAR / DAMASCUS
Syrians try to cross into Turkey following air strikes in Ras al-Ayn. REUTERS PhotoSecurity sources said Turkish F-16 jets were scrambled from their base in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır after the air raids in Ras al-Ayn.
Turkish ambulances ferried at least 21 wounded Syrians from the border to Ceylanpınar’s hospital, the official said on condition of anonymity. Images showed a large plume of smoke rising over the town, and dozens of Syrian civilians were also seen fleeing into Turkey after crossing through a barbed wire fence at the border.
On the diplomatic front, a Syrian Foreign Ministry official said the country would “never, under any circumstances, use chemical weapons against its own people,” after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Syria against using such weapons.
US’ red line
“In response to the statements of the U.S. foreign minister, Syria confirms repeatedly it will never, under any circumstances, use chemical weapons against its own people, if such weapons exist,” a Syrian Foreign Ministry official said, according to Agence France-Presse. Following the publication of a New York Times report on the detected movement of chemical weapons by the Syrian military, Clinton issued a “strong warning” to the government of Bashar al-Assad over the potential use of chemical weapons against Syrians. “This is a red line for the U.S.,” she said on the eve of today’s NATO meeting in Brussels. “Once again we issue a very strong warning to the al-Assad regime that their behavior is reprehensible. Their actions against their own people have been tragic,” the Associated Press quoted Clinton as having said.
In a similar report, Turkish officials told Britain’s Guardian daily that Turkey’s request for NATO Patriot missiles followed intelligence that the Syrian government was contemplating the use of missiles, possibly with chemical warheads. On Patriots, a top U.S. official said it would still take some weeks to place the Patriots even if NATO foreign ministers approve Turkey’s request.