WASHINGTON — The United States said Thursday Turkey had taken “appropriate” and “proportional” action in firing back at Syria after a deadly cross-border shelling, but urged that tensions should not escalate.
“From our perspective, the response that Turkey made was appropriate,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding Ankara had long made it clear that it would respond to any violation of its territory.
“It also was designed to strengthen the deterrent effect, so that these kinds of things don’t happen again, and it was proportional.”
Turkish artillery Thursday hit targets inside Syria in retaliation for Wednesday’s shelling that killed five Turkish nationals. Turkey said Syria apologized and vowed the incident would not happen again.
“We hope this doesn’t escalate into a broader conflict, we hope that the situation de-escalates,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
“We are outraged by the Syrian government actions along the the Turkish border. We stand by our Turkish allies,” he insisted, adding “certainly we respect the inherent right of self-defense displayed by Turkey.”
Turkey’s parliament has authorized military action against Syria, but insisted it was not a mandate for war as tensions soared between the neighbors.
“The intent in sending a very strong message was to deter future such aggression,” Nuland said, highlighting that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had promised to back Turkey as it seeks UN condemnation of the strike.
The United States supports “a very strong statement that makes clear who’s responsible and holds them to account,” Nuland said.
But Russian objections to the draft UN statement condemning Syria’s shelling of Turkey meant the Security Council was still in consultations.
Asked whether there was any message to Turkey about the shelling, Nuland said: “The message is to the Syrian side that it needs to stop.”