Turkish convoys heading towards the Syrian border with tanks and other military equipment. Turkey, a member of NATO, has been accused of arming rebels fighting the government in Damascus., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Iran says NATO preparing ground for intervention in Syria
TEHRAN, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Ali-Akbar Velayati, the senior advisor to Iran's supreme leader said Saturday that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is preparing the ground for military intervention in Syria.
Velayati made the remarks in reference to the recent exchange of artillery fire between Syria and Turkey, said the report.
A Syrian artillery shell landed on the Turkish territory Saturday afternoon, some 1,200 meters from the Syrian border, an official statement from the Turkish side said.
"Turkish troops retaliated against Syria by firing two mortar shells on Saturday afternoon," it added.
Earlier in the day, two Syrian artillery shells had landed inside Turkey, one at 7:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) and the other 11:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT).
Turkey and Syria have been exchanging fire sporadically on the border for four days after a mortar shell from the Syrian side fell Wednesday in the Turkish border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa province and killed five Turks.
Velayati, who formerly served as Iran's foreign minister, said, "Today, NATO is ready to issue a threat against Syria and intends to enter Syria under the pretext that one of the members of this organization, the neighboring country, has been threatened."
Certain Western countries are seeking to drag NATO into regional issues, he said, adding, "The West is digging a hole so that Turkey, Syria and the entire region will become stuck in it and the Islamic Awakening will be overshadowed. Regional countries, including Syria, Turkey and Iraq should remain vigilant because the United States and its allies have plots for regional countries. "
Israel and its Western allies have hatched new plots against Syria and certain other regional countries, he was quoted as saying.
Velayati said that the first pretext provided by the West for interference in Syria's internal affairs was that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not responding to legitimate public demands.
"But when the West came to the conclusion that the people are supporters of the government, they decided to dispatch foreign mercenaries to Syria and also encouraged neighboring countries to support them," Mehr quoted him as saying.
On Iran's stance toward Syria, Velayati said, "We have helped and are helping (Syrian government) and will support Syria's territorial integrity and the interests of the people and the government, provided that the reforms continue."
On Saturday, Tehran Times daily quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying that Iran has called on Syria and Turkey to exercise restraint amid mounting border tensions.
"Such incidents have no objective but to undermine friendship and brotherhood between the peoples of neighboring countries," said Mehmanparast.
Iran will continue its "well-intentioned" efforts to resolve the problems facing Syria and believes that dialogue is the only solution to the current problems, said the spokesman.
Chairman of Iranian Armed Forces' Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, said Friday that Syria and Turkey should realize that the United States wants a war between the two Muslim countries, Press TV reported.
"This war is what the U.S. wants and the officials of the two countries (of Syria and Turkey) should move towards non- interference in each other's affairs in order to see peace on the borders," Firouzabadi was quoted as saying.
He noted that war cannot make up for the two countries' mistakes and will only face both Syria and Turkey with major challenges.
The Iranian commander expressed hope that Turkish and Syrian officials would successfully weather this critical juncture as "no one wants to see war between two Muslim states."
"There is always an opportunity for dialogue, but the flames of war burn all such opportunities," said Firouzabadi.
Syria stuck in cross-border tension as violence raging
English.news.cn 2012-10-07 06:15:55
•Violence in Syria and cross-border tension with Turkey continued Saturday.
• Syrian defense minister stressed the Syrian army's resolution to rid the country of "terrorism."
• Aleppo has been witnessing intense clashes over the past months.
DAMASCUS, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Violence in Syria and cross-border tension with neighboring Turkey continued Saturday while the Syrian defense minister stressed the Syrian army's resolution to rid the country of "terrorism."
The Syrian army on Saturday succeeded in wresting control of al- Sakhour turnabout area in northern Aleppo province, pro-government media said, adding that the area has witnessed furious clashes between the Syrian troops and the armed rebels over the past months of clashes in Aleppo, the country's largest city and commercial hub.
Syria's state-TV, meanwhile, said that four Turks were among a group of gunmen who were killed earlier in the day during clashes in Aleppo.
Aleppo has been witnessing intense clashes over the past months, however, the intensity of clashes there has notably ramped up last week after the armed rebels announced the commencement of their " decisive battle" to win control over the northern slice of Syria before pitching for Arab and Western aid like what happened with the Libyan rebels in Benghazi during their civil conflict.
Meantime, sources told Xinhua Saturday that the Syrian army has unleashed a wide-scale operation in central al-Qusair town near Homs province to flush out insurgents.
Also in Homs, the pro-government Sham FM radio said as many as 42 armed men were killed Saturday during clashes with the Syrian troops at Bab Houd district.
The radio also said that an explosive device affixed under communal bus went off on Saturday at al-Warwar suburb of the capital Damascus, causing only injuries.
In separate accounts Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights alleged that the armed rebels have taken over the northern town of Khirbet al-Jous, on the border with Turkey, after 12 hours of intense fighting, during which 40 army personnel and nine rebel fighters were allegedly killed.
The Observatory also reported violence throughout the country including clashes between troops and rebels, placing the death toll of Saturday's violence at 57.
However, the Local Coordination Committees, another group of activists, placed the death toll at 110, 10 of whom were rebels.
As violence inside Syria grinds on, Syria, being busy in its 18- months-long internal conflict it has long blamed on foreign conspiracy schemed for the country by western countries and some regional powerhouses, is facing nowadays the looming danger of a possible war with its northern neighbor, Turkey, despite assurances by the two sides that they are unwilling to fight each other.
Fears of the break-up of a war with Turkey have rekindled Saturday when the Turkish army struck certain targets in Syria for the fourth consecutive day following the launching of a mortal shell at southern Turkey during clashes along the borders between armed rebels and Syrian troops.
The Turkish government said recently that it would not stand idle before such kinds of "provocations" from the Syrian government.
The already-existing tension between Syria and Turkey has dramatically risen on Thursday when Turkey bombarded some targets in Syria following alleged Syrian shelling of a Turkish border town that killed five Turkish civilians.
The Turkish parliament authorized a mandate to approve cross- border military action into Syria in response to the deaths of five civilians. However, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country has no intention of starting a war in the region.
On Saturday, the Turkish semi-official Aanatolia news agency said military vehicles of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were deployed in southeastern Turkey along the border with Syria.
The vehicles sent to Suruc town of the southeastern Sanliurfa province included a large number of tanks and missile defense systems, according to the report.
Turkey, which was a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al- Assad, is now spearheading attempts to overthrow him. It has become a home to more than 90 thousand Syrian refugees and provides a safe haven for the leaders of Syrian insurgents.
While the violence and cross-border tension seem incessant, Syria's Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij, stressed on Saturday that the Syrian army is "engaging in a global war in which it is defending the homeland and citizens' security."
In an interview with the Syrian TV, Freij stressed the army's determination to restore security and stability to Syria.
The minister also affirmed that "the most serious chapters of the conspiracy on Syria are faltering and the fleeing groups of wahhabi and al-Qaida-linked mercenaries are being crushed under the feet of the Syrian army heroes."
"Our armed forces today are more resolved to restore security and stability to Syria and cut off the hand of whosoever tries to harm it and eliminate the remnants of defeated terrorists wherever they are," Freij reiterated.
The minister's remarks has come on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, known as the October war, which began on Oct. 6 when Egypt and Syria took advantage of the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday to launch surprise attacks on territory occupied by Israel in previous conflicts.
News Analysis: Syrian crisis more likely to spill over borders
English.news.cn 2012-10-06 03:18:16
DAMASCUS, Oct .5 (Xinhua) -- The tension between Syria and Turkey has dramatically increased over the past three days, stoking fears that the Syrian internal crisis would spill over borders, through various ways, to its neighbors.
Following alleged Syria's shelling of a Turkish border town that killed five civilians and Turkey's retaliation by bombarding certain targets inside Syria on Thursday, world powers have pressed hard to contain the fallout of the incident and prevent a possible full-fledged war in the region.
The Turkish parliament has authorized a mandate to approve cross-border military action into Syria in response to the deaths of five civilians. However, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country has no intention of starting war in the region.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon also expressed "concern over the escalation of tension on the border between Syria and Turkey," and called on all concerned parties to exercise utmost restraint.
Over the past 18 months, there have always been fears among neighboring countries of being dragged into the conflict. Sporadic gunfire, stray bullets and mortar rounds, had struck Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, but had always been contained by all parties.
Experts suggest that Turkey is apparently afraid of a possible rise in the military tension along its borders with Syria to an extent that might push Damascus to open some of its arms depots for the Kurdish PKK guerrillas who regularly fight the Turkish army south of Turkey.
They say Syria might supply the PKK fighters with anti-tank missiles and Kornet tanks, making thereby the Turkish tanks and armored vehicles an easy target for the Kurdish fighters.
Worries have remarkably amplified after the serious signals emitted from the Syrian-Turkish borders, which is like a wakeup call that reverberates in surrounding countries that are vulnerable to the spillover of Syria's crisis.
The Lebanese, who have chosen since the outbreak of the Syrian unrest to adopt the self-distancing policies, are also worried about the erosion of the country's ability to protect the minimum limit of stability at present and to be drawn, willingly or unwillingly, to the conflict.
Western media quoted recently Lebanese sources and Syrian activists as alleging that a senior Hezbollah commander and two Hezbollah fighters have been killed near the Syrian town of Qusair, bordering northern Lebanon. The reports say the three Hezbollah men were killed in a Syrian rebel ambush on Saturday or Sunday.
The alleged incident has raised the danger of an outbreak of a sectarian war in Lebanon between pro- and anti-Syrian Lebanese parties.
Several international capitals have underscored the need to neutralize Lebanon from the repercussions of the Syrian crisis, not only out of concern for Lebanon, but also to keep Syria in the spotlight and keep attention focused on it, probably to intensify pressure on the current administration and prevent it from taking its breath.
Thus, those countries, according to analysts, work not to distract attention from the Syrian file, and strike to contain everything that could ease the international focus on this file.
Analysts believe that if Syria fell into the trap of division, the entire region would be fragmented, contending that it is enough for the wind to start blowing from Syria to crack its neighboring countries from Jordan to Turkey via Iraq and Lebanon.
Iraq's military also worked hard to staunch spillover from Syria's crisis, and tightened border controls as it is busy with its own insurgency and sectarian violence. Baghdad acknowledges that Sunni Islamist fighters are crossing the porous border to fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is part of the Alawite minority.
Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has resisted pressure from Sunni Arab Gulf neighbors for Baghdad to take a tougher line with Assad, as it maintains close ties to Assad's main ally, Shi'ite power Iran.
However, the Iraqi authorities, in an unprecedented step that is construed to be aiming to ease U.S. concerns that Iraq is allowing Iran to fly military supplies to help the Syrian administration, had recently ordered an Iranian cargo plane heading to Syria to land in Baghdad for a search, then allowed the flight to proceed after no weapons were found.
Observers believe that all regional countries should work to ease the tension in Syria and to find a soft-landing strategy to the 18-months-old crisis in Syria without further escalating the combustible situation.