4 Oct 2012

Syria ‘sorry’ for mortar attack on Turkey

Syria apologises for Wednesday’s mortar attack on Turkey, as the Turkish parliament gives the green light for military action outside the country’s borders if the government deems it necessary.

The bill was passed by 320 votes to 129. But Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay insisted this was a deterrent and not a mandate for war.

Speaking on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said Syria has apologised through the United Nations for the mortar strike which killed five civilians in southeast Turkey on Wednesday and said such an incident would not be repeated.

“Syria accepts that it did it and apologises. They said nothing like this will happen again. That’s good. The UN mediated and spoke to Syria in the evening,” Mr Atalay said.

Sources said the mortar attack from Syria, yesterday, came from the Tel Abayd district. Five Turkish civilians died in the mortar attack on the Turkish town of Akcale, on the Syrian border.

Flagrant violation

Turkey responded by launching artillery strikes into the Tel Abyad district of Syria, around six miles inside the Syrian border.

Yesterday Turkey went to the UN Security Council to ask for “necessary action” to be taken to stop Syrian aggression. “This is an act of aggression by Syria against Turkey,” a letter from Turkish UN ambassador Ertugrul Apakan to the security council said.

“It constitutes a flagrant violation of international law as well as a breach of international peace and security,”

The UN responded by demanding Syria immediately end “such aggressive acts against an ally”.

The shelling “constitutes a cause of greatest concern for, and is strongly condemned by, all allies”, NATO ambassadors said in a statement.

“The alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law.”

A ‘warning’

An aide to the Turkish prime minister said the shelling of the Syrian town was a “warning”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a number of President Bashar al-Assad’s soldiers were killed in the artillery attacks overnight.

RIA Novosti news agency reported that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged Syria to clarify that its mortar attack was “an accident”.

“Through our ambassador to Syria, we have spoken to the Syrian authorities who assured us … that what happened at the border with Turkey was a tragic accident, and that it will not happen again,” he said.

“We think it is of fundamental importance for Damascus to state that officially.”