UN: Syria has 'grave impact' on regional security (+video)
As Turkey bombarded Syria Thursday, the UN Security Council condemned Syria's initial mortar attack on Turkey. A peaceful anti-war protest took place in Istanbul on Thursday evening.
Frightened residents of a Turkish border town shelled by¬†Syria¬†expressed skepticism on Friday that military and political retaliation by¬†Ankara¬†would succeed in deterring more deadly strikes by¬†Damascus¬†forces.
Turkish artillery bombarded Syrian military targets for a second day on Thursday, responding to the mortar fire that killed five people the day before in the southeastern town of Akcakale.
The salvoes killed several Syrian soldiers, and¬†Turkey's parliament stepped up pressure on the political front by authorising cross-border military action in the event of further aggression.
Turkish Prime Minister¬†Tayyip Erdogan¬†said¬†Ankara¬†would never want to start a war and the parliamentary vote was merely a deterrent, but people in the region remained fearful.
"We are stuck in the middle," said 33-year-old security guard¬†Ibrahim Cilden¬†in Akcakale. "If we're going to go to war, let's go to war, but right now we're sitting here like targets."
His house was a few doors from the one hit on Wednesday in the south of Akcakale by the border fence. The area is like a ghost town, bearing the scars of Syrian shells, mortar bombs and bullets that have strayed across the border in recent weeks.
Syria's ally¬†Russia¬†said it had received assurances from¬†Damascus¬†that the mortar strike had been a tragic accident, as forces loyal to President¬†Bashar al-Assad¬†battle rebels trying to overthrow his government in the area.
By late on Thursday, the Turkish guns had fallen silent, but U.N. spokesman¬†Martin Nesirky¬†said Secretary-General¬†Ban Ki-moon¬†was "alarmed by escalating tensions along the Syrian-Turkish border" and worried that the risk of a wider regional conflict was growing.
But the U.S. State Department said it considered¬†Turkey's response to the Syrian shelling to be appropriate, proportionate and designed to deter any future violations of its sovereignty by¬†Syria.
"The AKP wants war, the people want peace," "No to war, peace right now," the crowds chanted as police looked on.
The U.N.¬†Security Council, in a rare agreement on¬†Syria, condemned the Syrian attack. That came after two days of negotiations on an initial text rejected by¬†Russia. Consensus within the council on anything related to¬†Syria¬†is unusual and it has been deadlocked over the country's 18-month conflict for more than a year, with¬†Russia¬†and¬†China¬†rejecting calls to sanction the¬†Damascus government.
Moscow¬†circulated its own version calling on both¬†Turkey and¬†Syria¬†to exercise restraint. Western council members objected to¬†Moscow's proposal, but revised the original draft.
"The members of the¬†Security Council¬†underscored that this incident highlighted the grave impact the crisis in¬†Syria¬†has on the security of its neighbors and on regional peace and stability," the 15-nation council said in the final version of its non-binding statement.
Turkey is sheltering more than 90,000 refugees from¬†Syria¬†and fears a mass influx similar to the flight of half a million Iraqi Kurds into¬†Turkey after the 1991 Gulf War.