Ocotber 4, 2012
According to sources at the Israeli intelligence asset DEBKAfile, Turkey is attempting to cut a ten kilometer “buffer strip” with continuous artillery barrages on the Syrian side of the border.
“Constrained from a substantial military incursion into Syria by US President Barack Obama’s veto and Saudi and Qatari refusals to help pay for it, Turkey’s government and military decided to make do with carving out a buffer strip 10 kilometers deep into Syria by continuous artillery barrages,” the website reports today.
The targets appear to be strictly military, although little is known about the situation due to media blackouts by both Turkey and Syria.
On Thursday, Turkey’s parliament overwhelmingly approved legislation permitting the military to engage in cross-border operations into Syria territory. “The Turkish response to the Syrian shelling was swift – it fired salvos of artillery rounds inside Syria, contacted its NATO allies and convened Parliament for a vote authorizing further cross-border military operations if necessary,” the Associated Press reports.
Syria meanwhile has assured the United Nations that it is not seeking an escalation of violence. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the Syrian government will not admit responsibility and apologize for the shelling that killed five on the Turkish side of the border until an investigation of the incident is complete.
Ja’afari read a letter delivered to the Security Council that urged Turkey to “act wisely, rationally and responsibly” and to put an end to cross-border infiltration of “terrorists and insurgents” that Turkey has hosted on its side of the border. The United States has trained and supported the Free Syrian Army and other groups working to overthrow the Bashar Assad regime.
According to DEBKAfile, “the White House did not rule out a limited Turkish border operation for forcing Syrian troops to go on the run and giving the Syrian rebels greater freedom of movement to cross back and forth for arms supplies and medical treatment.”
By the saturation bombardment of the 10-kilometer strip inside Syria, Turkey plans to drive the Syrian military presence out and enable the two rebel brigades to move in and start establishing a 50-kilometer long protected corridor from Aleppo up to the Killis region of southern Turkey.
If accurate, this would represent a major escalation of the war against Syria and signify the willingness of the United States and its proxies to overtly violate Syrian national sovereignty, something it has until recently been unwilling to do.
On the other hand, the event may be used to argue for the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan asked the United States to impose an immediate no fly zone over areas of Syria in the aftermath of a mortar attack. In addition, Qatar has called on world powers to prepare a “Plan B” for Syria within weeks and set up a no-fly zone to provide a safe haven inside the country, according to Reuters.