Turkey authorizes military operations in Syria
BY MEHMET GUZEL & SUZAN FRASER Associated Press
Friday, October 05, 2012
10/05/12 at 5:30 AM
Turkey sanctioned further military action against Syria on Thursday and bombarded targets across the border with artillery for a second day, raising the stakes in a conflict that increasingly is bleeding outside Syrian territory.
Although both sides moved to calm tensions, Turkey's parliament approved a bill allowing the military to conduct cross-border operations into Syria - making clear that Ankara has military options that do not involve its Western or Arab allies.
It was the most dramatic escalation in tensions between the countries, which were close allies before the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. Over the past 18 months, however, Turkey has become one of the strongest critics of the Syrian regime, accusing it of savagery and massacres against the opposition.
The rebels who are trying to bring down Assad have used Turkey as their base, enraging a regime that accuses foreign countries of fomenting the unrest inside Syria.
The spark for the latest hostility was a mortar shell fired from Syria that slammed into a house in the Turkish border village of Akcakale on Wednesday, killing two women and three children.
"(The shell) hit my neighbor next door. His wife, his children died," villager Bakir Kutlugil told The Associated Press. "Now I worry whether the next one will hit me or my neighbor."
Mehmet Yasin, another villager, said he feared Turkey will get drawn into more violence. "They are warring over there anyway. Why should we battle against anyone?" he asked.
The Turkish response to the Syrian shelling was swift - it fired salvos of artillery rounds inside Syria, contacted its NATO allies and convened Parliament for a vote authorizing further cross-border military operations if necessary.
The bill opens the way for unilateral action by Turkey's armed forces inside Syria. Turkey has used a similar provision to repeatedly attack suspected Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq.
At the U.N., the Security Council overcame deep divisions to unanimously approve a statement Thursday condemning Syria "in the strongest terms."
Council members managed to bridge differences between the strong statement demanded by the U.S. and its Western supporters and backed by their NATO ally Turkey, and a weaker text pushed by Russia, Syria's most important ally.
Original Print Headline: Turkey OKs military in Syria
A Syrian man cries outside a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, after his daughter was injured in a Syrian air strike. MANU BRABO/Associated Press