by Michael Kelley
October 9, 2012
Turkey's Yurt Newspaper is reporting that the
mortar used in a deadly bombing of a Turkish border town was
specific to NATO and given to Syrian rebels by Turkey, according to RT.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
told state-run television on Oct. 6 that the five civilian deaths in a
Turkish border town on Oct. 3 were caused by a D30 type, 122mm artillery
shell, which is used by the Syrian army.
But Yurt's Editor-in-Chief, Merdan Yanardag,
cited "information from a reliable source" who claimed that the mortar was
given to Turkey by NATO and subsequently passed along to rebels fighting to
topple Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The incident has led to seven consecutive days
of mortar exchanges between the former allies.
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African news
wire, told RT that given Turkey's longtime relationship with NATO, it would
"unsurprising that this has happened."
“Ankara isn’t taking any military
actions or contemplating any type of military strategy without being in full
cooperation with NATO forces,” Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the
Pan-African news wire, told RT.
On Tuesday NATO Secretary-General Anders
said that NATO has,
"all necessary plans in place to protect and defend
Turkey if necessary," according to AP.
Tuesday Turkey's Dogan news agency reported that at least 25 additional F-16
fighter jets were deployed to its southeast border late Monday.
On Sunday RT speculated (below video) that since
the borders are under rebel control, Wednesday's shelling could be a
deliberate effort to
legitimize military intervention.
Here We Go:
NATO Plans to 'Defend' Turkey
by Suzan Fraser
October 9, 2012
Barbara Surk and Zeina Karam in
Beirut and Frank Jordans in Istanbul contributed to this report.
Turkey Vows More Force
Turkey's military chief vowed Wednesday to
respond with more force to any further shelling from Syria, keeping up the
pressure on its southern neighbor a day after NATO said it stood ready to
Gen. Necdet Ozel was inspecting troops who have been put on alert
along the 910-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria after a week of
cross-border artillery and mortar exchanges escalated tensions between the
neighbors, sparking fears of a wider regional conflict.
Turkey has reinforced the border with artillery
guns and also deployed more fighter jets to an air base close to the border
region since shelling from Syria killed five Turkish civilians last week.
"We responded and if (the shelling)
continues, we will respond with more force," the private Dogan news
agency quoted Ozel as saying during a visit to the town of Akcakale.
He offered condolences to a man who lost his
wife and three daughters to a Syrian shell.
Schools in Akcakale reopened Wednesday despite the tense situation. They had
been closed due to security concerns.
On Tuesday, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance was
ready to defend Turkey, its strongest show of support to its ally since
the firing began.
The solidarity is largely symbolic. NATO member Turkey has sought backing in
case it is attacked, but despite publicly supporting Syria's rebels, Ankara
isn't seeking direct intervention. And the alliance is thought to be
reluctant to get involved militarily at a time when its main priority is the
war in Afghanistan.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday that Washington
has sent military troops to the Jordan-Syria border to help build a
headquarters in Jordan and bolster that country's military capabilities in
the event that violence escalates along its border with Syria.
The revelation raises the possibility of an escalation in the U.S. military
involvement in the conflict, even as Washington pushes back on any
suggestion of a direct intervention in Syria.
Syrian activists, meanwhile, said the rebel units of the Free Syrian Army
took control of Maaret al-Numan, a strategic city along the main highway in
Idlib province that connects the central city of Homs with northern city of
Aleppo and the capital Damascus.
Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights said the rebels took control of the city late Tuesday. He said the
rebels control the western entry into the city while the military is massing
troops along the eastern outskirts for a possible counter offensive.
Fadi Yassin, an activist in Maarat al-Numan, told The Associated
Press on Skype that rebels are in control of the town, although fierce
fighting continued around the military barracks in the eastern part on
Wednesday, three days after the FSA launched a "liberation battle," he
"The city has been liberated," Yassin said
of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province. "All liberation battles start with
small cities and then moves on to the major cities."
Holding on to Maaret al-Numan would be a
significant achievement for the rebels, enabling them to cut the army's main
supply route to two battered cities of Aleppo and Homs, both of which came
under bombardment from the regime's helicopters and artillery on Wednesday,
according to activists.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported fighting between Syrian rebels
and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime around the Syrian
town of Azmarin, in Idlib province, across from the Turkish border. It said
Syrians were fleeing homes in the Azmarin region, some crossing into Turkey
on rowing boats over the river Orontes, that runs along the border.
Footage from Anadolu showed three young children scrambling down a river
bank on the Syrian side before being taken across to Turkey on a makeshift
raft strapped to an inner tube. The children said they were fleeing fighting
Private NTV television reported that explosions and automatic weapon fire
could be heard in Turkey's Hatay province, coming from Azmarin. It said
rebels were clashing with some 500 Syrian government soldiers, and that at
least 100 rebels had been injured, some of whom had been brought to Turkey
Some 99,000 Syrians, mostly women and children, have sought refuge in Turkey
since the start of the conflict.
Also on Wednesday, state-run news agency SANA said President Bashar Assad
appointed Sattam Jadaan al-Dandah as Syria's new ambassador to Iraq.
The report did not say when al-Dandah will travel to Baghdad.
predecessor, Nawaf Fares, defected in July to become the most senior
diplomat to abandon Assad's regime during a bloody 18-month uprising that
has gradually become a bloody civil war.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been fiercely
critical of Assad, said Wednesday that Syria was,
"the bleeding heart of humanity and the
whole Islamic world."
Erdogan told a meeting of the Islamic Conference
in Istanbul that Turkey had refrained from responding to half a dozen shells
from Syria, but when five people were killed last week,
"we had to retaliate in the strongest way
that we could."