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POLITICS > Turkish gov’t puts Syrian border troops on red alert

ANKARA / MARDİN

Turkey gives its troops on the Syrian border license to kill in case of any vioaliton as PM Erdoğan vows to treat any Syrian threat to the frontier as a military target

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‘We urge the Syrian regime not to make a mistake and test Turkey’s determinacy and capacity,’ says PM Erdoğan as Kuwaiti lawmakers (inset) applaud. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

‘We urge the Syrian regime not to make a mistake and test Turkey’s determinacy and capacity,’ says PM Erdoğan as Kuwaiti lawmakers (inset) applaud. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Turkish government has instructed its army to intercept any potential security risk posed by Syrian security forces along its land and sea border, in response to the downing of a Turkish jet by Syria in international airspace. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also described the al-Assad regime as a “clear and present danger to Turkey’s security” in the wake of the incident.

“After this attack, we have entered into a new stage. The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed. Any risk posed by Syria on the Turkish border, any military element that could pose a threat, will be considered a threat and treated as a military target,” Erdoğan said in his parliamentary group meeting yesterday. The comments are his first public statements on the issue after it was clarified that a Turkish RF4-E Phantom jet had been shot down by Syria.

‘Turkey’s wrath is as strong as its friendship’

“We urge the Syrian regime not to make a mistake and test Turkey’s determinacy and capacity. … Our rational response should not be perceived as weakness, our mild manners do not mean we are a tame lamb. … Everybody should know that Turkey’s wrath is as strong and devastating as its friendship is valuable.” A Turkish unarmed reconnaissance jet that was performing a training flight over the Mediterranean Sea was shot down by Syria 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast in international airspace. Syria had claimed the incident took place in Syrian airspace.

Five Syrian helicopters recently violated Turkish airspace, but no action was taken against them other than issuing diplomatic notes. Some minor shooting incidents have even taken place without being made into an issue between the two countries, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News. “After now, if they occur, they will surely become a matter,” the source said. Erdoğan underlined that Turkey would also use its rights stemming from international laws. “Turkey will use its rights born out of international law with determination and take the necessary steps by determining the time, place and method by itself in the face of this unfairness. This is what I want to stress.”

According to diplomatic sources, this refers to Article 51 of the 7th Chapter of the U.N. Charter, which gives countries the right to self-defense in the event of a foreign attack. The prime minister also challenged the Syrian administration’s argument that it shot down the jet in its own airspace. “Our plane was targeted on purpose and in a hostile way and not as a result of a mistake. The attitude of the Syrian officials following the incident is the most concrete evidence that our jet was attacked on purpose. The harassing fire on our Casa-type plane during the search and rescue operations is the most palpable evidence of this intent.”

‘Turkey’s support will continue’

Despite his strongly worded statements that also mentioned increasing military measures against Syria, Erdoğan said they would not fall into the traps of what he called “war provocateurs,” although “this does not mean we’ll stand idle with our hands tied.”

He also vowed that Turkey would continue to support the Syrian people until they get rid of the “blood-shedding dictator and his gang.”

Turkey has no eye on any neighbors’ soil and has no intention to intervene in their internal affairs, Erdoğan said, emphasizing that the security of Anatolia was very much dependent on the security of Damascus, once ruled by the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century. “Today when we are talking about Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, and Homs, we are not talking about political gain, but in the name of the bloodshed of our brothers.”

TURKEY BEGINS DEPLOYMENT

MARDIN - Doğan News Agency

Turkey has deployed a large number of military vehicles to the Syrian border. The shipment included 15 armored tanks, in addition to long-distance guns and other military vehicles. The convoy was heavily guarded as it moved toward the border in the event of an attack by outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members. Military sources couldn’t immediately confirm the report. Military units reportedly increased security measures on the border following recent events that have strained bilateral relations. In a related development in the region, 13 zones near Hakkari, Diyarbakır and Şırnak have been declared temporary militray security zones. Diyarbakır Governor’s Office said yesterday in a written satement that no civilians will be allowed in the mentioned regions between July 6 and Oct. 6 since shooting drills will be exercised in those areas.


June/27/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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Yannis Marangos

6/27/2012 3:11:24 PM

The key sentence here is "Any risk posed by Syria on the Turkish border". Syria doesn't enter the Turkish border so this whole thing is for internal media consumption. Threats with no content since noone has, or will, break them. I believe that Syria and Russia have sent their message to Turkie, and now Erdogan is simply trying to save face and keep control of the nationalist agenda away from Turkish nationalists and rival generals.

Rimon Tree

6/27/2012 2:27:55 PM

@ Roy How pathetic! I pity them too, but if they wouldn't have been sent on such a foolish mission, they wouldn't have had to die! Blame the esteemed PM and the even more esteemed FM!

roy edwards

6/27/2012 8:45:40 AM

I can take or leave the comments of politicians, but my thoughts are with those brave young men who gave their lives in the service of their country. The freedom and democracy we enjoy is earned and preserved by such young heroes. May I also offer my condolences and respect to their family and friends. They are dead; but they live in each patriot's breast, And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest. (Longfellow) We shall remember them!

ilker avni

6/27/2012 5:59:18 AM

This sounds like Turkey is gona use artillary to help the oppostion maybe shell Asad forces.No civillians allowed,increased security measures, 13 zones declared military zones. A buffer zone or safe haven for the oppostion fighters will enable more to defect with their familes.A senior Syrian officer said many more soldiers want to defect but are in fear for their familes.Assad promised to kill they familes if they defect.

robert naslund

6/27/2012 5:40:59 AM

Turkey has every right under the protocol of NATO and its own government to protect itself from this hideous Assad...This Turkey is not the proverbial "turkey" in the funny-papers....I am an American veteran here in the USA and proud to say that I admire Turkey and its generous people.

Tekion Particle

6/27/2012 1:59:07 AM

All talk and hot air. We used to be proud nation. I wonder what Ataturk and all those martyrs who gave their lives to defend this country would make of it all. Our country is now governed by by amateurs who chose to lock up the able and experienced Generals and install yes men to key positions. There is a serious lack of leadership. If a rogue country shoots down your plain in international airspace you do not go crying to the NATO you retaliate. "YOU HAVE TO BEAT THE IRON WHILE IT'S HOT"
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