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Middle east

Turkey authorises military action after Syria clashes

Latest update : 2012-10-04

Turkey's parliament authorised military operations outside the country's borders on Thursday, following deadly cross-border skirmishes with Syria. But Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister insisted the vote was not a mandate for war.

Turkey and Syria appeared to be heading for all-out conflict on Thursday after the Turkish parliament gave the green light for military operations outside its borders.

The authorisation from the country's lawmakers comes a day after artillery shelling from Syria killed five civilians in the Turkish town of Akcakale.

The government had sought parliamentary approval to send soldiers to foreign countries in a memorandum which said that "aggressive action" by Syria's armed forces against Turkish territory posed a serious threat to national security.

Tension mounts between Turkey and Syria

Operations will only be launched if the government deems them necessary.

Following news of the vote, a small group of protesters gathered outside the parliament chanting “We don’t want war!” and “The Syrian people are our brothers”. Police were forced to fire tear gas to stop the protesters from approaching the building.

After the vote, the country's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said Turkey's priority was still to act in coordination with international institutions.

Speaking to reporters after parliament authorised military operations, Atalay said Turkey had exercised its right to retaliation and that the assembly's authorisation was not a "war memorandum".

Atalay also told reporters that Syria had admitted responsibility for the shelling and apologised for the deadly attack, saying “such an incident would not be repeated.”

Other Turkish officials also moved to play down the threat of war with Syria.

“Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary,” Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account. “Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue,” he said.

On Thursday a number of countries condemned Syria’s shelling of Akcakale, which killed a mother, her three children and a female relative.

Reaction to Turkey - Syria clashes

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed “strong solidarity with Turkey” saying the shelling was “completely unacceptable, not only for Turkey but for the international community as a whole”.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr also called on the Syrian government to respect its borders “to ensure that such an attack does not recur”.

Turkey has also requested that the United Nations Security Council take “necessary action” against the Syrian government.

In a letter to the president of the 15-nation Security Council, Turkish UN Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan called the firing of the mortar bomb "a flagrant violation of international law as well as a breach of international peace and security.”

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Line of fire along Turkey Syria border

Date created : 2012-10-04

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