Syria Formally Apologizes for Cross-Border Shelling into Turkey

The Assad regime took credit for the cross-border attack and vowed "such an incident will not occur again"

Turkey’s deputy prime minister on Thursday said Syria has admitted it was responsible for the shelling that killed five civilians in Turkey on Wednesday and has formally apologized for the deaths.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad not only issued a formal apology, says Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, but it reassured the United Nations that “such an incident will not occur again.”

Concerns that Syria’s internal conflict might be spilling over into neighboring countries and might prompt an outbreak of war were heightened sharply on Wednesday when the Turkish military launched artillery attacks against Syria in response to cross-border shelling which killed five civilians in southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish parliament responded to the situation by voting overwhelmingly to authorize Turkish military action against Syria, in a 320-129 vote. Atalay told the Associated Press that the measure “is not for war,” but is intended to deter Syria from further cross-border shelling.

Although the US has been meddling in Syria’s conflict – by sending aid to the rebel fighters and fueling the violence – many in the US  still don’t see an outbreak of war in Syria as workable.

The sectarian nature of the conflict brings back very fresh memories of the power vacuum and subsequent descent into chaos that broke out in Iraq. Furthermore, the opposition has elements of extremism and even al-Qaeda in it, and there’s no viable organized opposition for anyone to support.

Half measures like imposing a no-fly zone would also worsen the situation, given Assad’s considerable anti-aircraft capabilities, which are located in urban areas, putting more civilians at risk if the US were to try to take them out. This is also likely to expand the conflict outside Syria’s borders, something even war planners aren’t willing to risk.

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