BEIRUT – Turkey said Sunday that it would step up its efforts to persuade the international community to do more to end the war in Syria, after investigators said they had found evidence that the regime in Damascus was behind the car bombing in a Turkish border town that killed 46 people.
But Turkish officials also made it clear that they do not intend to retaliate for the attack.
The car bombing has exposed the risks for Turkey in supporting the Syrian rebels battling to topple President Bashar Assad.
The massive double bombing in the southern town of Reyhanli on Saturday also injured 155 people in the bloodiest single incident yet of cross-border spillover from the Syrian war. Nine Turkish citizens have been detained in connection with the blast. One is suspected of being the mastermind.
Interior Minister Muammer Guler told reporters the nine had ties to Syrian intelligence agencies.
This incident was carried out by an organization which is in close contact to pro-regime groups in Syria and I say this very clearly, with the Syrian mukhabarat, he said.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi denied the allegations and instead said Turkey bears responsibility.
Syria did not commit and would never commit such an act, not because we don’t have the capacity, but because our values would not allow that, he said in comments broadcast by state media.
Noting that the bombing came just days before Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due in Washington for talks with President Obama expected to focus on Syria, Zoubi implied Erdogan may have carried out the attack to persuade the United States to intervene in Syria.
It is Erdogan who should be asked about this act, he said. Why this timing? Why these attacks, just days before the meeting between Erdogan and Obama? Does he . . . want to incite the United States by telling him his country has been attacked?
Erdogan said the bombing had been intended to drag Turkey into the Syrian conflict, but he indicated that Turkey had no intention of becoming embroiled.
Turks should be vigilant and level-headed in the face of each provocation aimed at drawing Turkey into the Syrian quagmire, he told a rally held to commemorate Mother’s Day in Istanbul.
During a visit to Berlin, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed the international community’s inaction on Syria and said Turkey would press for a more robust response to the crisis from the United Nations.
The latest attack shows how a spark transforms into a fire when the international community remains silent and the U.N. Security Council fails to act, he said. It’s unacceptable for the Syrian and Turkish people to pay the price for this.