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Car Bomb Explodes at Turkey-Syria Border Crossing, Underscoring Spike in Tensions

A car bomb exploded yesterday at a border crossing between Syria and Turkey, injuring a dozen people and heightening long-held fears that the Syrian conflict would spread to Turkey. The explosion came a day after a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Syrian military helicopter that Ankara reported had entered Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings to leave:

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking in Paris after meetings about Syria with his counterparts from other countries, said Monday’s encounter should send a message.

“Nobody will dare to violate Turkey’s borders in any way again,” he said, according to Anatolia, the Turkish state-run news agency. “The necessary measures have been taken.”

Arinc noted that the Turkish military had put its forces on a higher state of alert and changed the rules for engaging with the Syrian military along the border because of “constant harassment fire from the other side.”

Turkey has intermittently threatened military action against the Bashar al-Assad regime, after Syrian forces shot down a Turkish jet that reportedly violated Syrian airspace:

Turkey has heightened military activity along its southern border since Syria shot down the Turkish jet over the Mediterranean on June 22, prompting a sharp rebuke from Ankara which said it would respond “decisively”.

The spike in tensions comes after years in which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Assad enjoyed warm personal and bilateral ties, with Erdogan at one point inviting the Syrian dictator to vacation in Turkey.

[Photo: Associated Press / YouTube]