Turkey's U.N. envoy Ertugrul Apakan delivered the U.N. Security Council a letter tonight describing the Syrian mortar attack against a small border village in Turkey as "an act of aggression" that "constitutes a flagrant violation of international law."
The Turkish envoy called on the 15-nation council to "take necessary action to put an end to such acts of aggression and that Syria respects Turkey's sovereignty, territorial integrity and security."Apakan said that Syrian armed forced shelled the town of Akcakale near the Turkish border, killing "five Turkish civilians, all of whom were women and children, as well as a number of serious injuries" to others.
The Turkish letter marks the opening of a diplomatic campaign at the United Nations to muster wide international support against Syria. It makes no reference to Ankara's military reprisals against Syria. But it warns Syria not to bring "an immediate end" to any further "unacceptable violations" of Turkish territory.
"This is an act of aggression by Syria against Turkey," Apakan wrote. "It constitutes a flagrant violation of international law as well as a breach of international peace and security."
It remained unclear precisely what sort of action Turkey favored.
The U.N. Security Council is planning to meet tomorrow to consider the Turkish request. Before Turkey responded militarily to the Syrian mortar attack, some council diplomats had been considering pushing for a statement condemning Syria's action. Council diplomats said they are now updating the language.
Acting on behalf of Turkey, Azerbaijan tonight circulated a draft Security Council statement condemning Syria "in the strongest terms" and expressing "sincere condolences" to the Turkish government and the families of the victims. The statement demands that Syria desist from further "violations" of international law.
The statement, however, would require the support of all 15 members of the council to be adopted. Russia, which is Syria's closest ally on the Security Council, has asked for a delay until 10:00 AM (NYC time) to decide whether to back the statement.
France's foreign ministry, meanwhile, issued a statement recalling that it is a military "ally" and that Turkey enjoyed its full support.
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Longtime Washington Post correspondent Colum Lynch reports on all things United Nations for Turtle Bay.