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Terrorism & Security

Turkey vows tougher response if Syrian shelling continues

Several Syrian mortars landed in Turkey today. The two countries have exchanged fire for the past week, though Syria says it does not want a military confrontation.

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The seriously wounded are ferried across to Turkey, while those less severely hurt are patched up at a makeshift first aid centre on the river bank and sent back into Syria.…

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Latin America Editor

Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.

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"We are living in constant fear. The mortar sounds have really picked up since this morning. The children are really frightened," said Hali Nacioglu, 43, a farmer from the village of Yolazikoy near Hacipasa.

Unlike the flat terrain around Akcakale, the border area in Hatay is marked by rolling hills with heavy vegetation. Syrian towns and villages, including Azmarin, are clearly visible just a few kilometres away.

"It's only right that Turkey should respond if it gets fired on but we really don't want war to break out. We want this to finish as soon as possible," said Abidin Tunc, 49, a tobacco farmer also from Yolazikoy.

Though Turkey was the first nation to retaliate militarily against Syria, Syria is not looking for a military confrontation, Jihad Makdissi, Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, told Bloomberg in a phone interview today.

“Syria is in a self-defensive mode and we will act accordingly, but we are not looking for any military confrontation,” Mr. Makdissi said. “What happened was an incident not an attack. This incident is because of the presence of armed groups in that area.”

Turkey has criticized the international community for what it sees as a lack of support as the Syrian conflict heightens, reports the Wall Street Journal.

But others say Turkey and the international community should be wary about participating, even tangentially, in Syria’s civil war, sending weapons to rebel fighters, or even nonlethal aid. The Independent’s Robert Fisk compares perspectives on the Syrian conflict to those held about Northern Ireland and the IRA during that conflict:

Odd how these things get forgotten. Now it is plucky little Turkey, hosting the opposition to the Syrian regime, funnelling weapons and armed men across the border into Syria – encouraging the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad – which is the victim. The IRA's' "terrorism" against the occupying Brits has been transmogrified into the valiant Syrian resistance against a vile Alawite-led regime whose Baathist acolytes must be crushed in order to bring democracy to Damascus, etc, etc.

Now the usual caveat – which will be forgotten by those who wish to accuse the writer of being a member of the Syrian intelligence service: Bashar al-Assad is a despot, his regime is awful, its policemen torture on a scale that would stun the RUC thugs who beat up their Catholic prisoners in Castlereagh, and Syrian militias fill mass graves; there were no mass graves in Northern Ireland.

BUT. When it comes to international law, to moral compromise, to sheer hypocrisy, the Western powers take the biscuit. La Clinton raves on about Syrian depravity when Syrian shells slaughter a Turkish woman and her four children – which they did – but gives succour to the gunmen who torture and kill and suicide-bomb the regime's supporters inside Syria.

On Monday, President Abdullah Gul advocated for the international community to be “more active” on Syria as the war-torn country faces “the worst-case scenario,” reports the WSJ.

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