The message is clear: beware the wrath of Turkey.
As tensions mount on its Mediterranean coast, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Syria over its shooting down of a Turkish warplane.
It was downed on Friday near Latakia after taking off from a Turkish airbase in Malatya.
Syria says the fighter jet had violated its airspace.
However Ankara insists it did so only briefly, by mistake, and was in international airspace when hit.
In Turkey’s parliament, the premier condemned the Syrian regime as a “cruel” dictatorship and said the
rules of engagement for Turkish armed forces had changed as a result of the attack.
“Any military element approaching Turkey from the Syrian border and representing a security risk will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target,” Erdogan said.
NATO member states, summoned by Turkey to an urgent meeting in Brussels, condemned Syria over the incident that resulted in the loss of two airmen.
A firm stance and caution were reflected in the alliance’s response.
“It is my clear expectation that the situation won’t continue to escalate,” said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “What we have seen is a completely unacceptable act.”
The reality is that Western powers as well as Turkey fear that any armed intervention in Syria could stir a sectarian conflict right across the region.