Turkey warns of retaliation if Syria violates border


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The Independent Online

Tensions between Turkey and Syria escalated yesterday after the Turkish Foreign Minister warned its neighbour it would retaliate if Syrian forces violated its border again.

The threat came as Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, issued a stinging rebuke to the UN Security Council for its failure to stop the bloodshed in Syria. Mr Erdogan said the UN's inaction was giving Syria's President Bashar al-Assad the "green light … to kill tens or hundreds of people every day".

Turkey was dragged into the crisis after shells fired from Syria hit its border town of Akcakale earlier this month, killing five people. While Western nations watch, fearful of taking on Russia in the UN Security Council, and worried about committing to any military action that could trigger a regional sectarian war, Turkey is getting increasingly impatient.

A Syrian airliner was intercepted in Istanbul last week amid Turkish fears that it was carrying Russian-made munitions for the Syrian army. Turkey has led calls for intervention, including no-fly zones enforced by foreign aircraft to stop deadly air raids by President Assad's forces.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, issued his warning to regional leaders at a conference in Istanbul yesterday. Mr Erdogan told the same gathering: "The UN Security Council has not intervened in the human tragedy that has been going on for 20 months, despite all our efforts." He added: "How sad [it] is that the United Nations is as helpless today as it was 20 years ago when it watched the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans, Bosnia and Srebrenica."

Fighting in Syria has increased markedly in the past two months. The council, with the Western powers on one side and Russia and China on the other, was unable to halt the civil war, which has killed more than 30,000.