Tensions between war-torn Syria and neighboring Turkey boiled over earlier today, when Syrian shellings killed five across the border in southern Turkey, and Turkey responded with artillery attacks on several sites inside Syria.
NATO was quick to scrambling into action, holding an “emergency meeting” which ended in a matter of minutes with a statement of “solidarity” with Turkey, and a pledge to keep the issue of Turkey’s territorial integrity on the docket for all future meetings.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen went on to condemn “Syrian aggression” and insisted that NATO was prepared to do whatever is necessary to defend Turkey from possible attacks.
The reality, of course, is that Turkey is much larger than Syria and has a much stronger military, and isn’t facing a real threat. Exactly what caused the cross-border strike was unclear, but it seems unlikely that it is the harbinger of a protracted Syrian offensive against southern Turkey. Rather the Assad regime, already struggling to handle its own civil war, is likely to try to smooth things over as quickly as possible, no small challenge since Turkey is openly backing the rebels and seems eager to use the provocation as an excuse for strikes.