Bulgaria condemns Syrian attack on Turkish territory as gross violation of international law

Syria’s actions in the mortar attack on Turkish territory, in which five people including children died, represent a gross violation of international law and a real threat to Bulgaria’s neighbouring ally in Nato, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said on October 4 2012.

Bulgaria late last night supported the statement by Nato’s North Atlantic Council on developments on the Turkish – Syrian border, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vessela Tcherneva said.

Nato ambassadors held an urgent meeting in Brussels on October 3 at Turkey’s request, and issued a statement demanding the “immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally” Nato also urged the Syrian government to “end flagrant violations of international law”, the Voice of America reported.

Tcherneva said, “In the spirit of allied solidarity, we support Turkish demands for an immediate end to such actions and we urge the Syrian regime to refrain from further reckless violations of international law.”

In accordance with its duties as an ally, Bulgaria would continue to closely monitor developments on Turkey’s border with Syria and would take the necessary measures as required.

Turkish officials said on the morning of October that the military had launched a further round of artillery strikes across the border into Syria in response to the previous day’s Syrian mortar attack.

The officials said the shelling on October 4 targeted the same area Turkish forces identified a day earlier as the source of the Syrian mortars, which landed in a residential area in Akcakale, VOA said.

Turkey said it responded immediately to the cross-border attack, striking targets Wednesday near the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad. Turkish officials and the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say the strikes killed Syrian soldiers, but did not specify how many.

Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Ankara acted within international law and will never fail to retaliate for what he called Syrian provocations against Turkey’s national security.

The BBC, quoting Turkish media, said on October 4 that the government inAnkarawas expected to ask parliament shortly to authorise cross-border military operations inSyria.

Today’s Zaman said that the Turkish parliament was set to vote on a surprise motion that would allow the government necessary military retaliation againstSyria.

The motion says Turkey maintains the right to retaliate if necessary against Syria if the war-torn country’s regime violates Turkey’s sovereignty.

İbrahim Kalın, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, said on his Twitter account that Turkey had no interest in a war with Syria but would protect its borders. He said political and diplomatic initiatives would continue, Today’s Zaman said.

Syrian information minister Omran Zoabi said Damascus is investigating the origin of the mortar fire, and that Syria offers its condolences to the Turkish people, VOA reported.

He called on neighbouring states to control their borders with Syria to prevent “terrorists” from crossing into Syrian territory. Syria uses the term “terrorists” to describe rebels fighting an 18-month uprising against autocratic Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

USsecretary of state Hillary Clinton said thatWashingtonwas “outraged” at the Syrian mortar strike onTurkey, a fellow member of the Nato alliance.

Turkey sent the UN Security Council a letter calling for “necessary action” to stop “aggression” by Syria. UN diplomats said the Council was discussing a possible statement in reaction to cross-border attacks.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Syria to respect the territorial sovereignty of its neighbours. He said the escalation shows how the Syrian conflict is increasingly harming neighbouring states.

TheUSdefence department said that the Akcakale incident was another example of what it called the “depraved behaviour of the Syrian regime.” It said the US stands by Turkey as a “strong ally.”



The Sofia Globe staff

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