Friday 23 February 2018

Border attack pushes Syria closer to war

Richard Spencer in Dubai

SYRIA descended further into open warfare yesterday with armed clashes in the south and on its northern border with Turkey as state media pointed to the involvement of Turkish forces.

In one of the most serious clashes to date, the Syrian authorities said they had repelled an incursion by 35 "armed terrorists" in the province of Idlib. They claimed some were wounded and were ferried away from the battle by Turkish military vehicles to Turkish army aid stations.

"The border guards forces suffered no injuries or losses," the state news agency said. "They warned they would stop anyone who even thinks of touching Syria's security or its citizens."

Turkey has provided a base and diplomatic cover to the Free Syrian Army, a growing band of defectors, and it is unlikely that an attack with such a large group of men could have been planned without the country's awareness.

That alone is enough to draw the two former allies closer to open war, though both are likely to try to avoid it. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, has said that a buffer zone inside Syria for refugees from the fighting might have to be considered, with outside military intervention if necessary.

An increasingly dangerous rift is forming between the main strategic alliances in the region. Iran and its allied militia in Lebanon, Hizbollah, are remaining loyal to Mr Assad but Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, has made its unease clear. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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