The cross-border bombardments that Restoring Liberty has been reporting on have now become daily occurrences. Some pundits believe that the conflict could erupt into a regional war, and worse. Here’s one report from the front lines:
If anyone believed that Syria’s bloodshed would stay inside the country’s borders, the events of the last week should have put them right. I’m in southern Turkey, near the frontier with Syria, and this area feels like the new front line of the battle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Convoys of Turkish army vehicles ply the roads down to the border and, quietly, civilians are trickling away to safer areas.
The reason is simple: cross-border artillery and mortar bombardments have become daily events. Last Friday, I went to the scene of the bloodiest incident so far, when a Syrian mortar bomb landed outside a family home in the Turkish town of Akçakale. By malign chance, a mother, her six daughters and a female relative happened to be outside, making dinner under an olive tree, when the weapon exploded beside them. They were, quite simply, cut to pieces. When I arrived, a severed human finger, covered in flies, was still lying on the ground. Three of the girls survived with critical injuries; the mother, three daughters and the visiting relative were all killed.
Additionally, the increasingly Islamic Turkey, a NATO member country that the United States is obligated to defend by treaty, forced down a Russian plane yesterday and is at risk of direct conflict with Russia:
Adding to strains with Turkey over the conflict in Syria, Russia demanded an explanation on Thursday after Turkish warplanes forced a Syrian passenger plane flying from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara on suspicion of carrying military cargo.
The episode on Wednesday also marked a sharp escalation of Turkey’s confrontation with Syria as authorities in Ankara ordered Turkish civilian airplanes to avoid Syria’s airspace and warned of increasingly forceful responses if Syrian artillery gunners keep lobbing shells across the border.
The forced landing exposed new fissures of dispute as the Russian Foreign Ministry demanded an explanation from Turkey, and other officials in Moscow denied that there were weapons or other military supplies on board the plane, which was carrying some Russian passengers.
Moscow’s complaints brought a quick response from Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, who was quoted by the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency as saying “materials that infringed international regulations” had been confiscated when Turkish officials searched the aircraft.
Russia and Turkey are already at odds over the Syrian crisis with Ankara joining Western and many Arab nations in support of insurgents seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad while Moscow has consistently shielded Mr. Assad, its main regional ally. Russia is Syria’s main arms supplier.