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Misfire: NATO mortar ‘gift’ from Turkey to Syrian rebels – newspaper

Published time: October 08, 2012 21:58
Edited time: October 12, 2012 16:40
People gather on October 4, 2012, in front of the house where five people were killed after a mortar fired from Syria crashed inside the Turkish border town of Akcakale on October 3, killing five civilians, including a mother and her three children.(AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)

People gather on October 4, 2012, in front of the house where five people were killed after a mortar fired from Syria crashed inside the Turkish border town of Akcakale on October 3, killing five civilians, including a mother and her three children.(AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)

The mortar used to attack the Turkish town of Akcakale is a design specific to NATO and was given to Syrian rebels by Ankara, according to Turkey’s Yurt newspaper. The mortar killed one adult and four children from the same family on Wednesday.

An article by the paper’s Editor-in-Chief, Merdan Yanardag, states that the newspaper received information from a reliable source, which claimed that Turkey itself sent the mortars to rebels in the so-called "free army."

“Turkey is a longtime member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and they’re going to act in conjunction with other NATO powers, so it’s unsurprising that this has happened,” editor of the Pan-African news wire, Abayomi Azikiwe, told RT.

NATO has so far shunned any military involvement in the conflict, but Azikiwe says the alliance is deeply involved in every decision that Turkey makes.

“Ankara isn’t taking any military actions or contemplating any type of military strategy without being in full cooperation with NATO forces,” he said.

Turkey retaliated at Syria for a sixth consecutive day on Monday, after a mortar from Syria landed in Turkey’s Hatay province.

And as Turkey fights to defend its border towns, the country’s president says the country’s military will take any action necessary.

"The worst-case scenarios are taking place right now in Syria … Our government is in constant consultation with the Turkish military. Whatever is needed is being done immediately as you see, and it will continue to be done," President Abdullah Gul said in a statement on Monday.

But it’s not only leaders within Turkey that are stating their opinions on the conflict.

Earlier on Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned of the consequences that the conflict could bring to the region.

“The escalation of the conflict along the Syrian-Turkish border and the impact of the crisis on Lebanon are extremely dangerous,” Ban said at the opening of the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, France.

The exchange of fire began last Wednesday, when Syrian mortar shells killed a woman and four children from the same family in Akcakale.

Many fear the situation will lead to regional conflict, with political analyst Dan Glazebrook, saying that Ankara aims to drag NATO into a war with Syria.

“On the one hand the [Turks] are trying to give cover to the rebels to continue their fight, as they know that the rebels are getting defeated on the ground so they are bombarding Syria as a way to help the rebels not lose too many of their positions,” Glazebrook told RT. “But I think also they may be hoping that they can somehow nudge, provoke NATO into taking action as well, into prompting a kind of blitzkrieg that is actually the only thing really that would enable the rebels to win now at this state.”

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