REYHANLI: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Damascus of trying to drag his country into the Syrian “quagmire” after twin bomb attacks killed 46 people in a town on the border.
Turkey said on Sunday it had arrested nine people over the twin car bombings that sowed death in Reyhanli the previous day, but the Syrian government denied any involvement.
Ankara said it was holding suspects who confessed and accused Damascus of trying to drag Turkey into civil war.
“They want to drag us down a vile path,” Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul, urging Turks to be “level-headed in the face of each provocation aimed at drawing Turkey into the Syrian quagmire”.
The attacks were the deadliest incident in what observers see as an increasing regionalization of the conflict that started in March 2011 and came as key brokers
Washington and Moscow made an unprecedented joint push for peace talks.
Speaking during a visit to Berlin, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the attacks a breach of Turkey’s “red line” and warned that Ankara reserved the right to “take any kind of measure” in response.
Cranes were seen lifting debris from buildings destroyed by Saturday’s blasts in Reyhanli, a major Turkish hub for Syrian refugees and rebels.
The attacks provoked a backlash against Syrian refugees as rampaging crowds wrecked dozens of cars, according to witnesses.
“I heard the first blast, walked out, thinking it was a missile being fired from Syria. Then I found myself on the ground, my arms and right leg hurting, my ears ringing. It must have been the second bomb,” said Hikmet Haydut, a 46-year-old coffee shop owner who had minor injuries to his head and body.
“I am alive, but all I have is gone.”
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said in a news conference that nine people—all Turks—were detained for questioning and that some had confessed involvement in the attacks, which also left dozens wounded.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler said that the explosives were smuggled into the area, then placed into Turkish vehicles with special compartments to conceal their deadly cargo.