Turkey urges international pressure on Syria
Sevil Küçükkoşum - ANKARAAnkara has been regularly notifying the U.N. and NATO about each shelling by Syria in its borders since Sept. 20 and urges the international community to push Damascus to prevent current tension on the Turkish-Syrian border from turning into a regional conflict.
Turkey delivered two diplomatic notes and a verbal warning to Damascus before the Akçakale incident and said it would respond militarily if its neighbor continues shelling across the Turkish border.
“We wanted to keep calm till the Akçakale incident, which caused five casualties,” a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News.
As the Syrian military continued to fire across the Turkish border over the weekend, Ankara has restrained itself from further action other than retaliation by counter-shelling, aiming not to increase tension. The conflict on the Turkish-Syrian border will be an issue in discussions with both Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their respective visits to Turkey. Brahimi is expected to pay a visit to Turkey this week, before Putin arrives in Ankara on Oct. 14. Ankara continues to notify the U.N. and NATO of Syrian border violations and urges them to put further pressure on the Syrian regime.
In separate briefings to ambassadors of non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council on Oct. 4 after the shelling, and ambassadors of EU and Arab League member countries Oct. 5, Turkish officials asked the international community for more pressure on the Syrian regime to “end violence on its people and refrain from border violations into its neighbors,” a participant ambassador told the Daily News.
Syria will escalate its acts if the international community does not increase pressure on Bashar al-Assad, Turkish officials told the ambassadors during the meetings, the ambassador, who wanted to remain anonymous, also said.
‘NATO active behind scenes’
Asked if NATO has failed to meet Ankara’s expectations regarding the Syrian threat on its border, a Turkish diplomat told the Daily News the alliance was active on the issue behind the scenes, but refrained from commenting on whether Ankara was fully satisfied. NATO has increased its military presence in the region with vessels patrolling in the Mediterranean Sea under operation Active Endeavour and routine flights heading to its operations to Afghanistan, but these moves were not announced officially to avoid a reaction, the diplomat said.