Turkey Threatens Military Retaliation Along Syria Border, Drawing Defiance From Assad
Bolstered by a declaration of support from NATO, Turkey warned Syria on Tuesday that it would retaliate if Syrian forces approach its southern border, signaling a significant escalation of tensions between the two neighbors following the downing of a Turkish jet.
The warning coincided with a strong condemnation of Syria by NATO, which weighed into the Syria crisis for the first time with a statement calling the attack on the plane “unacceptable” and stressing that the alliance stands with Turkey “in the spirit of strong solidarity.”
The Turkish threat, along with NATO’s unequivocal declaration of support, raised the risk of a confrontation along the 550-mile Turkish-Syrian border, which is already a focus of Syrian efforts to crush the 15-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. Large swaths of the border region have fallen under rebel control and Syria routinely launches attacks in the area.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a strongly worded speech to parliamentarians in Ankara that “any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria, posing a security risk or danger, will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target.”
‘This incident shows that Syria has become an open threat to Turkey and so we have come to a brand-new stage,’ he said.