Reuters reports: NATO said on Tuesday it had drawn up plans to defend Turkey if necessary against any further spillover of violence from Syria’s border areas where rebels and government forces are fighting for control.
Rebel suicide bombers struck at President Bashar al-Assad’s heartland, attacking an Air Force Intelligence compound on the edge of Damascus, insurgents said. Activists living nearby said the bombing caused at least 100 casualties among security personnel, based on the ambulances that rushed to the scene.
“Assad…is only able to stand up with crutches,” Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan, once a close ally of Assad, told a meeting of his ruling AK Party.
“He will be finished when the crutches fall away.”
Erdoğan, reacting to six consecutive days where shells fired from Syrian soil have landed on Turkish territory, has warned Ankara will not shrink from war if forced to act. But Ankara has also made clear it would be reluctant to mount any major operation on Syrian soil, and then only with international support.
Syrian forces and rebels have clashed at several sites close to the Turkish border in the last week. There has been no sign of any major breakthrough by either side, though activists said rebels killed at least 40 soldiers on Saturday in a 12-hour battle to take the village of Khirbet al-Joz.
It was not clear whether the shells landing on the Turkish side were aimed at Turkey or simply the result of government troops overshooting as they attacked rebels to their north. [Continue reading…]