Turkey's Response to Syrian Fire Not First Since Downing of Plane

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Article Summary
Turkish armed forces responded as promised to Syrian artillery fire that killed five civilians inside Turkey late Wednesday, following Syria's downing of a Turkish jet earlier this year. Fikret Bila reports Turkey has been responding to cross-border fire for months.

Turkey has retaliated to artillery fire from Syria that killed two women and three children in the Turkish town of Akcakale. After pinpointing the origin of the fire with radars, the Syrian positions where hit by Turkish artillery fire.

Automatic response

The Turkish response was automatic, in accordance with the rules of engagement, which were changed after our F-4 plane was shot down. After that event, several new units from the Second Army were moved to the border region and all units were ordered to respond to every threatening Syrian military move without waiting for further orders. This was the case yesterday when our border forces responded to the shelling of Akcakale.

Proportionate retaliation

Military sources described the response to the origin of the Syrian artillery fire as “proportionate local retaliation.” This local response to a border violation is considered “legitimate self-defense.” If violations continue, Turkey will have the right of hot pursuit as recognized by the UN Charter. At Akcakale and along the entire border, Turkish forces are reported to be on standby status.

Contacts in Ankara

Immediately after the shelling of Akcakale, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a conference call with Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Gen. Ozel briefed the prime minister of the details of the retaliation against Syria. Erdogan then briefed President Abdullah Gul.

Retaliation Wasn’t the First

Military and diplomatic sources said this was not the first case of retaliation against Syria. Since the F-4 affair, Turkey has responded to every Syrian firing at Turkey. In accordance with the new rules of engagement, Turkey responds every time there is firing without determining if it was intentional. Even if Syrian authorities declare firing wasn’t intentional and not an organized attack, Ankara considers even cases of careless firing that constitute a threat as an intentional act.

NATO moves

Foreign Minister Davutoglu immediately contacted NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to activate the alliance’s consultative mechanism in accordance with Article 4 of its charter. Rasmussen then decided to convene an ambassadorial level consultative meeting. Artillery fire to Akcakale is not seen as a major threat that would require activation of NATO’s 5th article. Only if Syria persists in larger attacks will the 5th article of collective response be applied. For the time being, NATO responded with a stern denunciation of Syria and expression of support for Turkey.

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Found in: turkish jet, turkish foreign policy, turkish fighter jet, turkish-syrian relations, turkish-syrian crisis, turkey, syrian crisis, syrian-turkish relations, military, downing of turkish jet
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