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UN condemns Syrian attack on Turkey

3 min

The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously condemned Syria's shelling of a Turkish town that killed five people, in a statement approved by all 15 council members, including Syria's most important ally, Russia.


The U.N. Security Council overcame deep divisions on Thursday to unanimously approve a statement condemning "in the strongest terms" Syria’s shelling of a Turkish town that killed five women and children.

Council members managed to bridge differences between the strong statement demanded by the United States and its Western supporters and backed by their NATO ally Turkey, and a weaker text pushed by Russia, Syria’s most important ally, after negotiations that began late Wednesday and continued through Thursday.

In the press statement, which needed approval from all 15 council members, the U.N.’s most powerful body said the incident “highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbors and on regional peace and stability.”

It also extended condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Turkey.

The council demanded an immediate end to such violations of international law and called on the Syrian government “to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbors.” Russia’s agreement that the Syrian shelling violated international law was a key concession by Moscow.

 Warning to Damascus

As the UN issued its statement, there were signs that Turkey was trying to prevent the cross-border violence from descending into war, hours after the country’s parliament gave its authorization for military action against Syria.

“Turkish artillery guns have been silent since yesterday morning,” reported FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Ankara, Jasper Mortimer.

“One has to notice that 129 members of Parliament voted no and there were anti-war demonstrations in several Turkish towns (…) Everybody wants things to calm down, but there is a risk that further shelling from the Syrian side could revive things and provoke a Turkish response again,” added Mortimer.

Line of fire along Turkey Syria border

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erodgan has repeatedly stated that parliament’s decision on Thursday was not a mandate for war, signaling his intent to avoid a full-scale military confrontation.

Turkish reprisals were meant to send a “warning” to Damascus, according to Fabrice Balanche, director of GREMMO (Groupe de Recherches et d'Etudes sur la Méditerrannée et le Moyen-Orient), a Paris-based think tank.

Noting the relatively subdued Turkish response to the June 22 downing of a Turkish fighter jet by Syria, Balanche maintained that Turkey’s retaliatory bombings and calls for emergency meetings at NATO and the UN “are all ways for the Turks to show their discontent."

“There will not be a war between Turkey and Syria because both countries have no interest in it,” concluded Balanche.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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