Turkey allegedly shelled targets in Syria
Turkey has been strongly protesting against Russia’s latest violation of their airspace, however it seems that they themselves are guilty of their own violation of another nation’s sovereignty. No I am not referring to Turkey’s incessant violations of Greece’s airspace. It appears that Turkey has been shelling positions in the northern Syrian province of Latakiah and that this bombardment has killed one Syrian soldier.
At first glance one can dismiss such claims as being Russian and Syrian propaganda, but it could very well be true. Turkey has already shelled positions in northern Syria in response to suicide bombings or cross border attacks by ISIL. However, in this situation Turkey is not retaliating against cross border attacks by ISIL or other groups. Instead the reason may be related to their Turkmen brethren in Syria.
It has been reported that during the last couple of days over 3,000 Syrian Turkmens have fled from their villages and refugee camps in northern Latakiah province to Turkey. The reason for this flight is to escape the intense aerial and artillery bombardment of the Russian and Syrian military against various rebel groups.
With this situation in mind it is possible that Turkey was shelling areas in northern Syria to help protect the Turkmen population of the region or to provide assistance to beleaguered rebel groups, whether they be Turkmen groups or al-Nusra. It seems likely to me that the former is merely a Turkish cover story for the latter.
If it is true that Turkey has indeed shelled positions in northern Syria, then this is just another step towards overt conflict between Russia and Turkey. Already a Russian military spokesman, General Igor Konashenkov has demanded “an immediate reaction and explanations of the actions of Turkish military by NATO and the Pentagon.”
Beyond this potential for further escalation, this incident also reiterates the hypocrisy of the Turkish government. They seem to expect other nations and groups to treat them in a certain manner, while they themselves treat others however they please. Maybe Erdoğan can get away with such behavior dealing with Greece or the European Union, but one wonders if this will be the case with someone like Putin.