Buoyed by support from his country's NATO allies, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syrian forces Tuesday to stay clear of their troubled border or face a Turkish military response to any perceived threat, following the disputed downing of a Turkish warplane.
The Turkish leader's bellicose tone came as ambassadors from the NATO alliance, seeking to avoid a wider conflict, held emergency talks in Brussels at Turkey's behest. After the meeting, the NATO secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the alliance considered Syria's actions in shooting down a Turkish warplane Friday "unacceptable."
In a unanimous statement, the NATO allies called the episode "another example of the Syrian authorities' disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life."
Turkey is a member of the alliance.
"I would certainly expect that such an incident won't happen again," Rasmussen said at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels. In Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey had revised its military rules of engagement toward Syria.
"Every military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria in a manner that constitutes a security risk or danger would be considered as a threat and would be treated as a military target," he said to lawmakers in a speech attended by Arab diplomats.
In calling for the meeting in Brussels, Turkey said it was invoking Article 4 of the NATO treaty, which provides for consultations by the allies when one of them is threatened.