NATO Ready to Defend Turkey in Syria Conflict

Border conflict continues for sixth day
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2012 9:19 AM CDT
In this Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 file photo, Turkish military station at the border gate with Syria, across from Syrian rebel-controlled Tel Abyad town, in Akcakale, Turkey.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – As Turkey continued firing back at Syria for a sixth day today after a Syrian shell crossed the border and killed five civilians last week, NATO says it is prepared to defend Turkey. The alliance has "all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary," says Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen—though he called for all sides to avoid escalating the conflict, the AP reports. Yesterday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the "worst-case scenarios" are now occurring inside Syria, and that he is in "constant consultation" with the military to ensure his country does what is necessary to protect itself, Reuters reports.

"There will be a change, a transition sooner or later," Gul said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "It is a must for the international community to take effective action before Syria turns into a bigger wreck and further blood is shed." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls the Turkey-Syria border conflict "extremely dangerous," warning that Syria's civil war poses "serious risks to the stability of … the entire region." He called today for Syria to declare a unilateral ceasefire, Lebanon's Daily Star reports. Meanwhile, Syrian rebels carried out a suicide bomb attack last night on the country's Air Force Intelligence complex, the BBC reports; human rights activists have accused the AFI of detaining and torturing hundreds on behalf of Assad. (Read more Turkey stories.)

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