Escalation of tension on Turkish-Syrian border

Escalation of tension on Turkish-Syrian border

The governor of Kilis, a Turkish city along the 910 km border with Syria, announced on July 23 that one soldier was killed and two other wounded as a result of open fire from the Syrian side.

The first reports claimed that those who opened fire were militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). Officials said that the Turkish military responded fire and a clash was going on as this piece was written.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had said a day before that indications showed that it was also ISIL that carried out the suicide attack on July 20 in another border town, Suruç where 32 people were killed, including the bomber. 

Stepping up measures in the fight against the ISIL was on the agenda of the government during a cabinet meeting on July 22, including “physical measures” to stop illegal crossings in order to counter an escalation of attacks by ISIL, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç announced.

But it is not only the ISIL that causes the escalation of tension in Turkey’s east and southeast bordering Syria and Iraq. It is also the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which broke the three-year de facto cease-fire and started killing Turkish security forces: a soldier on July 20, two policemen on July 22 and another policeman on July23.

The ironic side of the story is that ISIL and the PKK are fighting each other in the Syrian and Iraqi theater and it seems they have started another wave of armed campaign separately against the Turkish government.

They coincide with the deal about to be announced between Turkey and the U.S. regarding more intense cooperation against ISIL and other “terrorist organizations” in Syria and Iraq, including the use of Turkey’s main operating air base of Incirlik.

And all of these developments are taking place while Turkey is in a process of forming a coalition government or repeating the election of June 7, which further complicates the picture and necessitates special attention to watch what is going on in this part of the world.