Turkey turns to NATO over Syrian attack
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has accused Syria of shooting down one of its military reconnaissance jets in international airspace without warning and summoned a NATO meeting for tomorrow to agree a response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey’s cabinet was due to meet today to discuss Friday’s incident, which lent a more threatening international dimension to the 16-month-old uprising against Assad. Britain called the attack over the eastern Mediterranean outrageous and said it stood ready to back strong action in the United Nations.
Turkish newspapers welcomed Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to invoke an article in the NATO alliance’s founding treaty providing for urgent consultations if a member considered its security interests threatened.
“Turkey has moved into action” both Milliyet and Vatan newspapers declared in headlines under the NATO flag.
Sabah newspaper columnist Mehmet Barlas said some were calling Friday’s attack a Syrian declaration of war. “We already know there is an ‘undeclared war’ being carried out between Turkey and Syria,” he said, citing the presence of the Syrian opposition and Syrian refugees sheltering on Turkish soil.
Fierce fighting continued inside Syria, which has a 900 km (550 mile) border with Turkey.
Syrian tanks and artillery shelled the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, killing at least 20 people in the second day of heavy bombardment in the country’s main oil-producing region, opposition activists said.
“Regime forces have dismantled their roadblocks from inside of Deir al-Zor after incurring heavy losses from rebels. They have withdrawn from residential areas and are now shelling the city from the outskirts.