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INTERNATIONAL > ‘Syria strike could be a game-changer for worse’

ISTANBUL / Hürriyet

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The Turkish War Colleges was held in Istanbul April 10 with the attendance of high-ranking air force army officials from 60 countries. HÜRRİYET Photo

The Turkish War Colleges was held in Istanbul April 10 with the attendance of high-ranking air force army officials from 60 countries. HÜRRİYET Photo

İpek Yezdani İpek Yezdani ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

The military architect of the air strike operation of the first Gulf War, known as Desert Storm, said an attack from outside Syria on the Arab republic would make the situation worse for everyone.

“Personally, I cannot see any way that if you attack Syria, [that it could] conceivably make the situation for anybody in Syria any better than it is now,” retired American Air Force Col. John Warden told daily Hürriyet yesterday in an interview.

The colonel was participating in an international symposium on the “History of Air Warfare” at the Turkish War Colleges in Istanbul where high-ranking air force army officials from 60 countries, including eight air force commanders, participated.

Regarding a U.S. air strike on Syria that nearly occurred after a sarin gas attack outside Damascus in August 2013, Warden said, “It would definitely [have] changed the game in Syria, but not for the better.”

He said the whole situation inside Syria was sufficiently complex that any kind of intervention from the outside was likely to do as much harm as good.

“Of course it would change the game if the U.S. or NATO or anybody else made an air attack on Syria. That’s a significant change in what is going on [in Syria]. It changes the game, but then the question comes: Is that change in the game better for anyone?” he said. “And in fact, it has the significant probability of making the situation worse for everybody.”

Turkey engaged in self-defense

Commenting on Turkey’s downing of a Syrian jet last month, he said Turkey had engaged in “self-defense.”

“As you are flying, it is very easy to go and cross the [border] line. And when you look down, there is no big thing like a border. In an incursion into somebody else’s airspace – which is an easy thing to do – you might get shot down,” Warden said, adding that in such cases both sides needed to look at the situation and say “maybe we need to stay 10 miles back from the border.”

“That’s what the Syrians should say right now. In other words, you should start looking for ways to reduce the probability that an airplane gets shot down by an accident or by mistake or unnecessarily. You’ve got to do patrols at the border but you don’t necessarily have to come right up to it.”

Turkish Air Force in top 10

Warden said the Turkish Air Force had become a significant air force this year around the world. “The Turkish Air Force is a very professional air force; there are very capable fliers. I would put it in the top 10 in the world without question.”

Turkish Air Force Commander Gen. Akın Öztürk said instability in the region had left Turkey in the heartland of trouble. “We are living in a region where being weak is not an option. We are surrounded by many flashpoints of conflict. Kosovo, the Aegean Sea, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Ossetia, Palestine, Nakhchivan, and Crimea are all within 150 miles of our borders” he added.

April/11/2014

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