Reuters is reporting that the Turkish military has carried out air strikes inside Syria. Those attacks come in response to mortar fire from Syria over the border in Turkey that killed at least five people, today including a woman and her three children.
This is a very crucial moment for the potential internationalization the Syria conflict.
The conflict in Syria has been a grave matter for Turkey for the past several months. Refugees are pouring over the border at a rapid clip, and Turkey has previously warned that it can no longer handle the influx. In the meantime, about Turkish schools near the border have been shut down the border and residents in Turkey’s border towns are increasingly anxious of the conflict spilling over.
Ankara has hinted for several months that it desires some sort of international intervention in Syria, but because of the paralysis at the Security Council there has not been much momentum behind that idea. Still, under Article 51 of the UN charter, countries have an inherent right to self defense. Provided Turkey’s response is proportional, it has every right to take measures to prevent future mortar attacks on its nationals from being launched from Syria.
NATO will hold a meeting in Brussels today at Turkey’s behest. Turkey may ask NATO to consider invoking Article 5 — the provision of collective defense that underpins the NATO alliance. I would imagine that the Obama administration is not keen on being dragged into a war so close to the US, election. But NATO’s response will be a key measure of the kind of international support Turkey can expect to receive should it continue assaults inside Syria.