Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said on Thursday that a deadly Syrian mortar strike on a Turkish town had to be considered an attack on a member of the NATO alliance.
“One has to say that according to the NATO treaty, it was an attack on a member of NATO, and that means France,” Al Arabiya quoted Meridor as having told reporters during a visit to Paris. He was referring to France’s membership of NATO.
Meridor said he did not want to go into details about the incident but said the deaths in Syria had to end.
“Syria is in a horrible situation, a civil war. Each day men, women and children are being killed and it must be stopped,” Meridor said after a meeting with France’s foreign and defense ministers.
“We are in a process that isn’t finished. We don’t see the end for now,” he added, according to Al Arabiya.
Meridor made the remarks as the Turkish parliament authorized cross-border military action into Syria, if deemed necessary by the government. The mandate, valid for one year, was passed by 320 votes in the 550-seat Turkish parliament.
In a news conference on Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would never want to start a war and parliament had authorized foreign deployment of troops as a deterrent after the fatal Syrian shelling of southeast Turkey.
“We could never be interested in something like starting a war,” Erdogan told reporters at a news conference, adding, “The Turkish Republic is a state capable of defending its citizens and borders. Nobody should try and test our determination on this subject.”
During the news conference, Erdogan lashed out at Syria over increasingly growing number of attacks on Turkey as the violence escalates on border towns between Assad forces and opposition fighters and said these attacks can’t be an accident.
Meridor, meanwhile, address the alliance between Syria, Iran and Hizbullah, saying, “The alliance with Iran is extremely worrying (for us). Iran on one side, Hizbullah on the other, with Syria in the middle. For us, it’s very important that this unholy alliance is broken.”
He added, “If the Assad regime were to fall, it would be a vital strike on Iran.”
Syria has admitted it has chemical weapons and has threatened to use them if attacked by external forces. It claimed it will not use these weapons on rebels fighting to oust Assad. Israel has expressed concerns that should Assad’s regime fall, the chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Hizbullah.
Recent reports from Syria indicated that Assad has transferred a battery of advanced missiles to the al-Masna border crossing, which is the central route used to transfer equipment and weapons to Hizbullah. Members of the Syrian opposition said that one of two major chemical arsenals of the Syrian regime is located near that border crossing.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last week that the Syrian regime has moved some chemical weapons to safeguard the material as it wages war against rebel forces, but the main storage sites for its arsenal remain secure.