UN scrambles to defuse Turkey-Syria tensions

by
October 5, 2012

Jerusalem Post

UNITED NATIONS – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was “alarmed by escalating tensions” between Syria and Turkey and warned that the risk of the 18-month-long Syrian conflict embroiling the entire region was growing, his spokesman said on Thursday.

“The Secretary-General is alarmed by escalating tensions along the Syrian-Turkish border,” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. “As the situation inside Syria deteriorates yet further … the risks of regional conflict and the threat to international peace and security are also increasing.”

A mortar bomb from Syria landed in Turkey on Wednesday, killing at least five people. Turkeyresponded later the same day by striking targets in Syria. Turkey asked the UN Security Council to take the “necessary action” to stop Syrian aggression and ensure Turkish territorial integrity is respected.

Turkey’s parliament gave authorization on Thursday for military operations outside Turkish borders if the government deemed them necessary, a day after artillery shelling from Syria killed five civilians in a Turkish border town.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said on Thursday that the deadly mortar strike had to be considered an attack on a member of the NATO alliance.

“One has to say that according to the NATO treaty, it was an attack on a member of NATO, and that means France,” Meridor told reporters during a visit to Paris, referring to France’s membership of NATO.

Syria and Israel have not exchanged fire in three decades, and a parliamentary briefing in July by the Israeli armed forces chief about the risk of “uncontrollable deterioration” in Syria were interpreted by local media as a caution against opening a new fighting front with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Meridor said he did not want to go into details about the incident but said the deaths in Syria had to end and denounced Syria’s “worrying” alliance with Iran.

“The alliance with Iran is extremely worrying (for us). Iran on one side, Hezbollah on the other, with Syria in the middle. For us, it’s very important that this unholy alliance is broken,” Meridor said.

“If the Assad regime were to fall, it would be a vital strike on Iran,” he said.

Russia seeks to weaken UN statement

At the UN, Russia blocked the adoption of a draft statement condemning a deadly Syrian mortar attack on a Turkish town and proposed a weaker text that would call for “restraint” on the border without referring to breaches of international law.

Western diplomats complained that Russia’s proposals, if accepted, would weaken the statement to an unacceptable degree.

To read more, visit: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=286684

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