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Is Syria's war spreading to Turkey?
Turkey lobs artillery shells into Syria for two days straight, raising fears that the Syrian conflict could engulf the region
 
Turkish soldiers patrol the Turkey-Syrian border on Oct. 4: Turkey has gone on the defensive after a Syrian mortar attack killed five Turkish civilians.
Turkish soldiers patrol the Turkey-Syrian border on Oct. 4: Turkey has gone on the defensive after a Syrian mortar attack killed five Turkish civilians.
REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Turkey on Wednesday shelled targets in Syria for a second day, in response to a mortar attack near their shared border that killed five Turkish civilians. The Turkish parliament also passed a resolution authorizing further military strikes against Syria, fueling concerns that the two countries are on a path to war. Tensions between Syria and Turkey have been mounting for months, as Syrian refugees flood into Turkey, and rebel supplies pour into Syria in the opposite direction. And an escalating conflict could have global repercussions: Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is bound to defend Turkey militarily in certain cases. Is Syria's war spreading to Turkey?

No. There's little popular support in Turkey for war: Many Turks "welcomed their army's swift reprisal for deadly Syrian artillery fire into Turkey," say Daren Butler and Ece Toksabay at Reuters, "but their anger was tempered by fears of being dragged into full-blown intervention in a war that could blow back across their borders." The Turkish phrase "'savasa hayer' ('no to war') was the top trending item" on Turkey's version of Twitter, and one poll shows that 60 percent of Turks oppose "authorizing possible military deployments."
"Turks wary of greater military action against Syria"

Syria doesn't want war either: "There is no reason why" the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "should want to drag Turkey into a conflict," says James Blitz at Britain's Financial Times. Assad has enough problems dealing with the rebels trying to depose him. It's more than likely that Syria's deadly mortar attack was a mistake, "the consequence of the increasingly indiscriminate way in which the Assad regime is conducting operations against rebel forces." And while Turkey "wants to demonstrate a muscular response, it is not — as yet — planning anything like a full-scale intervention inside Syria."
"Has Turkey reached a tipping point on Syria?"

Actually, Syrian actors may be trying to drag Turkey into war: "In the fog of war that has settled over Syria... some observers said they could not help wondering if the episode had been orchestrated by one side or another," say Tim Arango, Sebnem Arsu, and Anne Barnard at The New York Times. The rebels may be using the incident to bolster their demands for a NATO-backed no-fly zone, while Assad "may feel he can rally his supporters against foreign invasion." Either way, NATO's policy toward the Syrian conflict may have to change to take these new developments into account.
"Turkey's parliament approves further military action against Syria"

 

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