US, NATO would help Turkey on border protection if asked, says spokesperson
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland. AA photoU.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland has referred to the blast at the Cilvegözü border gate with Syria in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, saying that if they were asked, they would do what they could either bilaterally or through NATO.
“Our ally Turkey did not apply for security back up, not that I know of,” Nuland said during a daily press briefing. “Of course, if such a request came from them, we would like to do the best we can bilaterally, or through NATO.”
Nuland added that the information they had received from the Turkish authorities on the blast was mostly about casualties.
“The Turkish government is continuing with the investigation,” she added. “There is no excuse for such a violent act at a peaceful border gate. It is clear from this incident, as well as from the ongoing violence in Syria, that al-Assad is targeting opposition leaders.”
The death toll from the Feb. 11 blast increased to 14 yesterday, with investigations focusing on three suspects who were seen on camera footage leaving the van shortly before the explosion. The car that exploded came from the Syrian side and three people had left the car parked near the border gate before the blast.
A taxi driver has identified one of the three suspects of the Cilvegözü assault and said he had driven the suspect to Reyhanlı, daily Radikal has claimed. The driver declined to comment any further.
A security guard who was at the scene of the blast said the women was covered and remained in the backseat, while two other suspects spent a few minutes by the driver seat. The woman and one of the other suspects are then seen walking to Syria, while the driver is seen walking back to Turkey.
Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici said previously that security would be increased at the border, but humanitarian aid would continue to be sent across, Anatolia news agency has reported.