Turkey will use force in future Syrian aggression: PM
ISTANBUL/BRUSSELS PRIME Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey would not hesitate to use force in response to any future incidents involving Syria, which shot down a Turkish warplane last week.
“We have changed the rules of engagement of the Turkish armed forces; all breaches of law occurring on our borders will be met with a response,” he warned. “Every Syrian soldier who comes close to the Turkish border will now be regarded as a threat,” he added, in a live broadcast of a meeting with legislators of his Justice and Development Party.
He also accused Syria of deliberately provoking its northern neighbour in the June 22 incident. “This was a deliberate act of planned hostility,” he said, explaining that Syria had issued no warning and had not attempted to contact Turkey before shooting the plane down.
“Turkey is a country which can be trusted by all of its allies and its neighbours.
Turkey’s friendship is valuable, but everyone should be aware that Turkey’s wrath can be violent,” the premier warned.
At the same time, Erdogan said Turkey would not go to war over the incident, choosing a peaceful response instead. “We will take every step open to us under international law,” he said.
Erdogan’s statement came as the NATO military alliance - of which Turkey is a member - discussed the shooting down of the warplane, which has raised tensions between Turkey and Syria and threatened to widen Syria’s 16- month conflict.
In Brussels meanwhile, NATO convened on Tuesday after Turkey invoked Article 4 of the alliance’s charter, which allows for consultationsif a member state feels its sovereignty is threatened. “We consider these acts to be unacceptable and condemn (them) in the strongest terms. It is another example of the Syrian authorities’ disregard for international norms, peace and security and humanlife,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Military intervention, under Article 5 of NATO’s charter, was not discussed, but Rasmussen said the allies would “continue to follow the situation closely and with great concern.” “The security of the alliance is indivisible: we stand together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity,” the NATO chief said.