UN condemns mortar strike on Turkish town

Russia blocked a draft version of the resolution that would have justified greater international involvement by the Security Council in Syria. The UN Security Council unanimously condemned this week’s mortar strike by Syria that killed five civilians in Akcakale.

The statement on Thursday (October 4th) called on Syria to “fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours” and said that Wednesday’s strike “highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbours and on regional peace and stability.”

The statement is notable in that China and Russia, which have supported Syria in the past, voted in favor of the statement to condemn Syria’s actions. The BBC reported that Russia blocked a draft version of the statement that called the attack “a threat to international peace and security,” as that language could be used to justify greater international involvement.

Fighting in Syria has continued for 19 months in an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a vocal critic of Assad, and has called upon him to step down. Meanwhile, more than 90,000 Syrian refugees are living in shelters that Turkey constructed on the border.

In all, more than 300,000 have fled Syria. The UN estimated this week that the number of refugees may top 700,000 by the end of the year.

Turkey’s parliament on Thursday authorised military action in Syria, the first time it has taken that step, after a shell fired amidst the fighting landed in Akcakale. Syria apologised for the incident.

The EU has urged restraint by Turkey while condemning the mortar attack.

While the action by parliament gives Turkey the ability to cross the border into Syria, analyst Cengiz Aktar, a professor of political science at Bahcesehir University, does not think it will happen.

“Turkey is warning Syria, but cannot really act. NATO doesn’t give a green light, and Russia is strongly against it,” he told SES Türkiye.

“I think Syria will stop shelling,” Aktar said. “I think the government analyses – and I share the analysis – that the Syrian regime doesn’t want a front with Turkey. They are busy killing their own people. The Syrian regime probably hates this incident and will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Professor Kamer Kasim, vice director of the International Strategy and Research Organisation, said Turkey’s flat, long border with Syria would make it easy for its military to cross, but he believes that Ankara wishes to avoid that circumstance.

“Turkey always wants to act together with others and always asks its allies for support. They are trying to build that support, so it can be used if the border violations by Syria continue,” Kasim told SES Türkiye.

“Turkey didn’t get support for a security zone across the border. If it had, something like what happened [Wednesday] wouldn’t have happened. And it can happen again. So Turkey has to issue a strong warning now, to make sure Syria is more cautious. For now, there is no other way.”

 

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