Syria-Turkey tension ‘extremely dangerous’
STRASBOURG / HATAY
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon EPA photoU.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the rising violence along the Turkish-Syrian border and the effect of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon are extremely dangerous, just hours before another mortar struck on Turkish soil.
“The situation in Syria has dramatically worsened. It is posing serious risks to the stability of Syria’s neighbors and the entire region,” Ban said yesterday at the opening of the World Forum for Democracy in the French city of Strasbourg. “The escalation of the conflict along the Syrian-Turkish border and the impact of the crisis on Lebanon are extremely dangerous. They show that this is a regional calamity with global ramifications.”
Retaliatory strikes continue
Meanwhile, the Turkish military launched a retaliatory strike on Syria yesterday, after a mortar fired from Syrian soil landed in the countryside of Hatay, in what was the sixth consecutive day of Turkish retaliation.
The round from Syria landed 150-200 meters within Turkey’s border in the district of Hacıpaşa at about 3 p.m., a Turkish official told Reuters. No one was wounded in the incident. Since last week, the Turkish military has responded whenever Syrian shells have breached its territory. The Turkish Parliament has also given the government the green light to use military force against Syria if necessary.
“To date six mortar shells have fallen within the borders of Hatay. All of the shells fell in uninhabited parts of the city,” Hatay Gov. Celalettin Lekesiz said before the latest mortar strike, urging the public to remain calm. In another border town, Akçakale, where a Syrian shell killed five civilians last week, schools have still not reopened due to security concerns.
A convoy of military vehicles carrying howitzers also headed toward the border town of Reyhanlı in Hatay province yesterday. In Diyarbakır, twenty-five jets have been deployed to military base for additional precautions. The U.N. chief also urged donors to provide more funding to help deal with the humanitarian disaster in Syria. Ban also raised concerns about arms supplies to both President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and rebel forces.
“I am deeply concerned by the continued flow of arms to both the Syrian government and opposition forces. I urge again those countries providing arms to stop doing so,” he said. “Militarization only aggravates the situation,” he said. “I am calling on all concerned to abandon the use of violence, and move toward a political solution. That is the only way out of the crisis.”