2012 Syrian–Turkish border clashes
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2013)|
|2012 Syrian–Turkish border clashes|
|Part of Syrian–Turkish border incidents during the Syrian Civil War|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Bashar al-Assad
Wael Nader Al-Halqi
| Abdullah Gül
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
|Casualties and losses|
|12 soldiers killed
14 soldiers killed
23 soldiers wounded
(Syrian opposition claim)
|5 civilians killed
13 civilians and police wounded
The 2012 Syrian–Turkish border clashes occurred on 3 October 2012, when an artillery shell fired from Syria by the Syrian Army killed five and injured at least ten Turkish citizens in the border town of Akçakale in Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey. The Turkish armed forces artillery units conducted saturation shelling of Syrian military posts.
- 1 Background
- 2 Timeline
- 3 Aftermath
- 4 NATO Response
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Turkey, once an ally of Syria, has condemned Assad over the use of violent forces against protesters and has requested his departure from office. In October 2011, Turkey began sheltering the Free Syrian Army, offering the group a safe zone and a base of operation. Together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey has also provided the rebels with arms and other military equipment.
On 22 June 2012, a Turkish F-4 fighter jet was shot down by Syrian government forces. Both pilots were killed. Syria stated that it had shot the fighter down using anti-aircraft artillery near the village of Om al-Tuyour, while it was flying over Syrian territorial waters one kilometre away from land. Turkey's foreign minister stated the jet was shot down in international airspace after accidentally entering Syrian airspace, while it was on a training flight to test Turkey's radar capabilities. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed retaliation, saying: "The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed ... Turkey will support Syrian people in every way until they get rid of the bloody dictator and his gang." Ankara acknowledged that the jet had flown over Syria for a short time, but said such temporary overflights were common, had not led to an attack before, and alleged that Syrian helicopters had violated Turkish airspace five times without being attacked and that a second, search-and-rescue jet had been fired at. Assad later expressed regret over the incident. In August 2012, reports appeared in some Turkish newspapers claiming that the Turkish General Staff had deliberately misinformed the Turkish government about the fighter's location when it was shot down. The reports said that a NATO command post at Izmir and a British base in Cyprus had confirmed that the fighter was shot down inside Syrian waters and that radar intelligence from U.S. forces had disproved any "accidentally entered Syrian waters" flightpath error. The General Staff denied the claims.
Attacks from Syria
As the clashes between the government forces and the opposition in Syria intensified, artillery shells began to fall across the border onto Turkish soil. On 3 October 2012 at 16:25 EEST (13:25 UTC), a bomb fired from Syria hit a house in the central area of Akçakale. A 39-year old mother and her three children aged between eight and 14 years and another woman of 40 years of age were killed by the blast. Thirteen others, including police officers, were injured. Three of the injured had light wounds while two of them were severely wounded. The source of the shells and their manufacturer remain unknown as Turkish authorities have not released a ballistic test.
Turkish military retaliation
At 18:00 (local time in Turkey; GMT/UTC + 02:00) the same day, five F-16 fighters from the 8th Main Jet Base Group of the 2nd Tactical Air Force Command at Diyarbakır Air Base and RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft from the 7th Main Jet Base Group Command in Malatya Erhaç Air Base conducted reconnaissance missions along the border, identifying Syrian military targets and relaying their coordinates to the Turkish Armed Forces Command in Ankara. Turkish artillery then conducted saturation shelling of these targets with T-155 Fırtına howitzers, which have a firing range of 40–45 kilometres (25–28 mi). The targeted region was Ayn al-Arus of Tal Abyad town in Ar-Raqqah Governorate across Akçakale.
Mandate by Turkish parliament
On 4 October 2012, the Turkish parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey passed a motion by a vote of 320-129 authorizing the use of military ground troops to enter "foreign countries" for operations. The one-year mandate, according to Turkish officials, is not expected to be carried out.
Further border incidents
On 5 October 2012, shells fired by Syrian artillery in Latakia landed in the rural area of Aşağıpulluyazı village (Coordinates: ) in the Yayladağı district of Hatay Province. The day before, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had announced at a press conference during the official visit of Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi that a Syrian shell had fallen in Altınözü, Hatay Province. The second incident caused no damage to persons or property. Immediately after this second incident in Hatay, artillery of the Turkish 3rd Border Battalion stationed in Yayladağı fired on Syrian military targets.
A grain depot in Akcakale suffered minor damage from shrapnel from a Syrian mortar round exploding on 6 October 2012, though no injuries were reported. Turkey responded by shelling Syrian military targets over the border and positioning a platoon of ACV-300 armored personnel carriers on the southern edge of Akçakale, with their weapons pointed at Tel Abyad, a town a few kilometres into Syria.
On 10 October 2012, Turkish Air Force F-16s intercepted a Syrian Air Airbus A320, flight RB442 from Moscow to Damascus, in Turkish airspace and forced it to land at Esenboğa International Airport, suspecting it was carrying Russian-made weapons. Inspectors claimed confiscating ammunition, military communications equipment and items "thought to be missile parts", however evidence has not been publicly shown. The Russian foreign minister denied the claims and said that the plane cargo included only radar units.
On 17 October 2012, Turkish artillery fired into Syria after a Syrian mortar shell landed on Turkish territory in Hatay province. No casualties were reported on either side.
On 23 October 2012, an anti-aircraft shell struck a health center in Reyhanlı, approximately 200 yards (180 m) from the Syrian border. The shell landed in an empty room, and no injuries were reported. It was apparently fired from Harem, Idlib Governorate, where clashes were reportedly underway between rebels and government troops.
Two Syrian anti-aircraft shells struck 300 meters north of the village of Beşaslan in Hatay Province, Turkey on 29 October 2012, to which Turkey immediately responded by firing artillery rounds into Syria. Neither side reported casualties.
In the morning hours of 12 November 2012, a Syrian military helicopter bombed rebel positions around the town of Ras al-Ayn near the Turkish border across Ceylanpınar in Şanlıurfa Province. The rebels responded with heavy machine gun fire. Soon later, a Syrian fighter jet bombed the area. Glass windows of some buildings in the center of Ceylanpınar shattered by the blast. One Turkish soldier and two civilians on the Turkish side were reportedly wounded during the incident. Fleeing Syrian civilians crossed the border into Turkish territory. Several injured refugees were taken into a hospital in Ceylanpınar by ambulances. The town's mayor warned the residents not to come close to the border for their own security.
January 2013 incident
In the early hours of 14 January 2013, a shell fired by unknown Syrian forces landed in an olive grove near the border village of Akçabağlar, causing no casualties. On January 30, Syrian El Muhaberat agents tried to cross the border between Turkey and Syria but were turned back under fire by Turkish forces. Two Syrian agents were wounded in the incident with no Turkish casualties reported.
February 2013 border-crossing bombing
May 2013 Akcakale incident
On 2 May 2013, fighting occurred between Syrian anti-government insurgents and Turkish border guards at the Akcakale border crossing. One Turkish border guard was killed in the engagement, reportedly the first armed clashes between Turkish government agents and anti-Assad militants.
May 2013 Reyhanli bombing
On 11 May 2013, two car bombs exploded in the Turkish city of Reyhanli, killing at least 40 and injuring over 100. Turkish residents of the town reportedly attacked Syrian refugees and automobiles with Syrian license plates following the bombing.
September 2013 Syrian helicopter shot down
On 16 September 2013, Turkish fighter jets that took off from Malatya Erhaç Air Base shot down a Syrian Mi-17 helicopter that violated Turkish airspace according to vice prime minister Bülent Arınç.
Following Ankara's invocation of Article IV of the Washington Treaty, NATO's North Atlantic Council stated that the alliance: "... demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law ...".
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