- All military forces of neighbouring countries on "state of high alert"
International News Desk
For a fifth straight day the Turkish military have bombed targets within Syria, sparking fears of a dangerous escalation in tensions in the Middle-East.
The pro-Turkey EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said she strongly condemned the Syrian attack on Turkey, but has yet to condemn Turkish bombardments of Syria for a fifth consecutive day.
"I am in contact with the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to express our solidarity and our condolences to the families of the victims and to the Turkish people."
Syria and Turkey exchanged artillery fire for a fifth straight day on Sunday, while insurgents struck police headquarters in Damascus, in the third high-profile attack in the Syrian capital in recent weeks.
Turkey has already joined with other forces in the region in a deliberate campaign to destabilise the Assad regime with documented links between Ankara and the Syrian rebels.
Hurriyet the Turkish daily newspaper reports on growing tensions inside Turkey at the actions of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdošan, with criticism by the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) for its attitude on the Syria motion. “You have to be prepared as if you are about to be in a war at any time. If you cannot be prepared, you cannot call yourself a powerful country and powerful nation.”
U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta warned over the weekend that the continued exchange of fire across the Syrian-Turkish border raises concerns that the conflict could spread to neighbouring countries.
Mr. Panetta, in a news conference in Peru on Saturday, said that the U.S. is using its diplomatic channels to relay worries about the fighting, the Associated Press reported.
The Turkish Prime Minister in a belligerent response said "in the end we did as was required. Nobody should dare to test our determination and sensitivity on this subject."
Turkey has in the past invaded sovereign territory belonging to Iraq along its northern borders to attack Kurdish PKK fighters, and Turkish military still occupy 38% of the northern third of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey is estimated to have 1,370,407 soldiers ready for military operations, has the sixth strongest military in the world, 69,774 Total Land 4,246 Tanks, APCs / IFVs: 6,592, Towed Artillery: 1,838, SPGs: 1,419, Mortars: 7,574, AT Weapons: 47,545, AA Weapons: 5,547 and Logistical Vehicles: 24,906.
Turkey spends 2.4 % of its gross national product [about $18 billion] on its military. That number puts it among the countries that spend the most on their militaries.