NATO convened an emergency meeting today after a Syrian mortar attack that apparently left five Turkish civilians dead. Turkey retaliated with an artillery strike on Syrian military targets, and for a few brief minutes that afternoon we were all, like, "UHHHH."
But so far it doesn't appear that the conflict will escalate: the NATO allies released a statement condemning Syria and expressing solidarity with Turkey; and, according to U.S. officials, this is Syria's irritating and deadly way of saying "don't mess with us." Even so, it was the first fighting between the two countries since last year, and is a worrying development for people who'd rather not see NATO get more deeply involved in the Syrian conflict.
It's also a bit odd:
It was unknown whether the mortar fire came from Syrian government forces or rebels fighting to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The Turkish response seemed to assume that the Syrian government was responsible.
Atilla Sandikli, the director of the Ankara-based Center for Strategic Studies, said on NTV that Syria was trying to pull Turkey into the conflict, and that the government should react with "utmost care."
But why on earth would the Syrian government want Turkey involved? (Sentiment in Turkey, right now, is divided between anti-war activists and pro-interventionists.)
[NYT; image via AP]