Turkey warns of tougher response on Syria shelling
AKÇAKALE / ISTANBUL
Responding to locals’ cheers, Özel raises his fist, saying: ‘We are here and we are standing tall.’ Özel says Turkey will show a a tougher response if the shelling continues. DHA photoTurkey’s top military commander warned yesterday they would invoke a tougher response if Syrian shells continued to hit Turkish soil while the prime minister reiterated that Turkey has no aim to intervene in the domestic politics of Damascus.
“We have retaliated [to Syrian shelling] and if it continues, we’ll respond more strongly,” Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel said in the border town of Akçakale, where five civilians were killed by Syrian shelling last week. The general was inspecting troops on a tour of the heavily fortified border zone where a number of shells from Syria have fallen to prompt fears that conflict between the neighboring nations will escalate.
Accompanied by Land Forces Commander Gen. Hayri Kıvrıkoğlu and Second Army Commander Galip Mendi, Özel arrived in Akçakale early yesterday.
As part of his tour he visited the relatives of four people who were killed in last week’s attack and offered his condolences. Responding to locals’ cheers, Özel raised his fist and said: “We are here and we are standing tall.” Later in the day he traveled to the town of Nusaybin in Mardin to inspect the military posts there. Özel’s inspection began Oct. 8 as he, Kıvrıkoğlu and Mendi travelled to Adana, visiting İskenderun first followed by Hatay, Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa the following day. The army has bolstered its presence along the border and has been responding in kind over the past week to gunfire and shelling coming across the border from northern Syria.
Bashar wants to break record: PM
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Oct. 9 the 28-member military alliance had plans in place to defend Turkey. He gave no further details, but a senior U.S. defense official said NATO would likely react if Turkey made a request for assistance. In Istanbul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey has no intention of intervening in the domestic politics of Syria and has no interest exerting influence over the country. The prime minister insisted that the mistakes of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government had led them to this point.
“Unfortunately al-Assad’s government did not listen to our advice. He did not keep his promise.” Commenting on the rising number of deaths, Erdoğan said: “Hafez al-Assad has killed 30,000 people in Homs. His son Bashar [al-Assad] says ‘I should break the record of my father,’ he is in effort to put the number above 30,000.”