Turkey authorizes Syria ‘military operations’

Turkey’s parliament in an emergency session on Oct. 4 authorized military action against Syria following deadly cross-border fire—while insisting it was not a war mandate. The vote came as Turkey retaliated for shelling that killed five Turkish nationals. An artillery shell fired from Syria during the clashes between government forces and the Free Syrian Army there landed on a house in the district of Akçakale in the southeastern province of Urfa; a mother and her four children lost their lives, and another 13 people were injured. Although shells have fallen across the border before, it marked the first time that Turkish citizens were killed by Syrian fire. Although Damascus issued an apology, Turkish retaliatory fire continues, killing several Syrian soldiers. An evacuation of Akçakale has been ordered.

Protesters opposed to the Turkish shelling marched through Ankara and Istanbul Oct. 4. In Ankara, police used tear gas to disperse a group that converged on the parliament building, chanting “We don’t want war!” and “The Syrian people are our brothers!”

Inside Syria, the army shelled several areas of Aleppo, the country’s second city that has been one of the focal points of the conflict since mid-July when the army promised the “mother of all battles” to clear the city of rebels. In Damascus province, clashes between the army and rebels left at least 21 members of Syria’s elite Republican Guards dead. Car bombs targeted a military officer’s club in Aleppo on Oct. 2, leaving dozens dead, while a third blast went off at an entrance to Aleppo’s Old City. More than 31,000 people have been killed since the outbreak in March last year of the revolt against Assad’s regime. (EuroNews, Oct. 5; Middle East Online, AFP, ReutersWorld Bulletin, Turkey, Oct. 4; BIANet, Turkey, World Bulletin, Oct. 3)

Turkey called a NATO meeting to discuss a response to the shooting down of one of its warplanes by Syrian forces.

  1. US Arab allies hold back aid to Syrian rebels
    All those who view the Syrian revolution as a CIA “contra” force will of course ignore this Oct. 6 New York Times story because it doesn’t fit the conspiracy theory, in their usual dishonest cherry-picking approach to the news:

    Citing U.S. Fears, Arab Allies Limit Syrian Rebel Aid
    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — For months, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been funneling money and small arms to Syria’s rebels but have refused to provide heavier weapons, like shoulder-fired missiles, that could allow opposition fighters to bring down government aircraft, take out armored vehicles and turn the war’s tide.

    While they have publicly called for arming the rebels, they have held back, officials in both countries said, in part because they have been discouraged by the United States, which fears the heavier weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists.

    As a result, the rebels have just enough weapons to maintain a stalemate, the war grinds on and more jihadist militants join the fray every month.

    “You can give the rebels AKs, but you can’t stop the Syrian regime’s military with AKs,” said Khalid al-Attiyah, a state minister for foreign affairs in Qatar. Providing the rebels with heavier weapons “has to happen,” he added. “But first we need the backing of the United States, and preferably the U.N.”

    Saudi officials here said the United States was not barring them from providing shoulder-fired missiles, but warning about the risks. The Saudis and Qataris said they hoped to convince their allies that those risks could be overcome…

    American support for such weapons transfers is unlikely to materialize any time soon. The Obama administration has made clear that it has no desire to deepen its efforts, mostly providing logistical support for the rebels.

    Meanwhile, Turkey and Syria exchange artillery fire over the border for a fifth straight day. (AP, Oct. 7) When do we get to call this a war?