UN chief warns of Syria-Turkey escalation | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2012

UN chief warns of Syria-Turkey escalation

Turkish military retaliates after new shell; rebel bastions pounded, 61 killed


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned yesterday of a "dangerous' fallout from spiralling violence along the Syrian-Turkish border, as regime troops shelled rebel bastions across Syria leaving dozens dead.
"The escalation of the conflict along the Syrian-Turkish border and the impact of the crisis on Lebanon are extremely dangerous," Ban said at the opening of the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, France.
The armed uprising in Syria has increasingly sparked violence on the country's border with Nato member Turkey, with the Turkish military returning fire on Sunday after a shell launched from Syria struck the border village of Akcakale.
There were no casualties in Sunday's incident, but last Wednesday five civilians were killed in the village by shelling from Syria.
Since Wednesday, the Turkish military has responded in kind whenever Syrian ordnance has breached its territory, inflaming tensions between the former allies and leading to fears of a broader conflict.
Turkey's parliament on Thursday gave the government the green light to use military force against Syria if necessary.
The UN Security Council has strongly condemned cross-border attacks by Syria and called for restraint between the two neighbours whose ties have nosedived, with Ankara supporting the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The UN chief also raised concerns about arms supplies to both Assad's regime and rebel forces.
"I am deeply concerned by the continued flow of arms to both the Syrian government and opposition forces. I urge again those countries providing arms to stop doing so," he said.
"Militarisation only aggravates the situation," he said. "I am calling on all concerned to abandon the use of violence, and move toward a political solution. That is the only way out of the crisis."
Turkey's military yesterday struck back at Syrian military positions after a new shell fired by the neighbouring country landed in a Turkish border area, a Turkish official told AFP.
Turkey retaliated in kind after the Syrian shell landed in Altinozu district, in southeastern Hatay province, at around 12:00 GMT, said the official speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Turkish military retaliates immediately after every single Syrian shell," said the official. "We have anti-aircraft batteries pounding Syrian targets."
Earlier, Hatay provincial governor Celalettin Lekesiz said a total of six Syrian shells had hit the province so far, without any casualties.
A string of rebel bastions across Syria was rocked by regime shelling and clashes yesterday, as several army checkpoints also came under attack, with at least 61 people killed nationwide, a rights group said.
Twenty of the deaths occurred when the army launched an intensive pre-dawn assault on the town of Karak al-Sharqi in the southern province of Daraa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
In the northwest province of Idlib, five soldiers were killed and three officers, including a brigadier general, were captured during clashes with rebels at a checkpoint in the village of Zaayniyeh, the Britain-based group said.
The rebels, who also lost one of their own men, seized that checkpoint and another on the road between Jisr al-Shughur and the village of Darkush on the Turkish border, amid ongoing clashes.
The village has suffered repeated military assault, heavy shelling and attempts to storm it over the past three days and was facing "a crippling blockade and terrible medical and humanitarian conditions," the Observatory said.

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