Turkey tamps down talk of going to war with Syria (+video)
After Syria shelled a Turkish town yesterday and killed five civilians, Turkey returned fire and went to NATO. However, experts say Turkey's moves are more about deterrence.
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Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor. He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog. He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.
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Turkish artillery shelled targets in Syria for a second day in retaliation for a mortar attack that killed five Turkish civilians. But while Turkey is debating authorization of military action in parliament and called an emergency meeting of NATO to discuss the incident, officials say that the government has no plans to declare war.
The Associated Press reports that the Turkish military fired several artillery rounds into Syria early today, according to a witness. Mustafa Guclu, who lives in Akcakale, the Turkish town hit yesterday by Syrian mortars, said they fired five rounds of artillery "after midnight" and another round around 5 a.m. on today. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, several Syrian troops were killed by the Turkish attack, the BBC reports.
The slew of attacks come in response to yesterday's shelling of Akcakale by Syrian mortars, which killed two woman and three children in the worst case of cross-border violence into Turkey since the Syrian uprising began. AP adds that, according to Turkish media, at least 10 others were injured in the attack.
The Syrian mortar shell damaged the door and walls of a house in Akcakale, while shrapnel drilled holes and shattered windows of neighboring houses and shops. Some residents of Akcakale abandoned their homes close to the border and spent the night on the streets. Others gathered outside the local mayor's office, afraid to return to their homes as the dull thud of distant artillery fire rumbled across the town.
According to Russian media reports, Syrian officials told the Kremlin that the attack was a "tragic accident" and not an intentional assault on Turkey, reports Reuters. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, urged Damascus to publicly acknowledge the mistake.