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Press Secretary Calls Syria’s Actions ‘Wrong, Deplorable’

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2012 – The United States stands with its NATO ally Turkey in Ankara's response to a Syrian cross-border mortar attack that killed five Turkish civilians yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

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Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little briefs reporters at the Pentagon, Oct. 4, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

During a news conference, Little said Defense Department officials are outraged by the Syrian government’s actions along the Turkish border.

“We hope that this doesn’t escalate into a broader conflict; we hope that the situation de-escalates,” he said.

Turkey responded to the attack with artillery fire directed against Syrian military targets.

“It is absolutely inappropriate, wrong and deplorable for the Syrian regime to conduct this kind of activity along the border, which has led to the loss of life of Turkish civilians,” Little said.

NATO officials released a statement following an emergency meeting called after the cross-border incident, saying “the alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law.”

It is time for Bashar Assad and his regime to step down, Little emphasized during today’s news conference.

“They continue to kill innocent civilians in Syria, and it’s time for the Syrian people to be able to determine their own future in a country that’s free of this kind of brutality,” he added.

Little said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has not had any contact with Turkish officials since the incident, but that Pentagon leaders “respect the inherent right of self-defense displayed by Turkey.”

According to media reports, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay announced today that Syria had admitted responsibility for yesterday’s mortar shelling and apologized for the deaths, pledging "such an incident will not occur again."


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