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May 11, 2013

The Reyhanli Explosions

As I wrote yesterday:
But don't bet on a turn around yet. I expect some nefarious things are being cooked up right now. There are lots of talks of "massacres" without any evidence that such happen. We may soon see one with "evidence" and then should be careful when attributing that to the responsible side.
Now here is a "massacre" as tweeted by the BBC's Jon Williams:
Reports up to 25 dead after explosions in Turkish town of #Reyhanli on #Syria border. Transit point for rebels going in, refugees coming out.
Here is a first gruesome video of the incident. Looks like a big one went off. Some gunfire can be heard in the background.

We can expect the Turkish prime minister to accuse the Syrian government over this incident and to demand at least retaliation if not outright war.

But we do not know yet how those explosions happened. There is talk of Scud missile but that seems unlikely. As I said we have to very careful with attributions.

This tweet by the Turkish journalist Mahir Zeynalov may help with assessing the incident:

Two explosions outside Reyhanlı municipality and post office, many wounded. This place is predominantly populated by pro-Assad Alawites.


Update: The Turkish interior minister claims a "car bomb" exploded. At least 4 dead and 18 wounded.

Update: Up to 4 carbombs, 18 dead, 22+ injuried. Some harsh words towards Erdogan from people interviewed on Turkish TV.

Update: In this video one can see the damage of the first explosion and then hear/see a second (smaller?) one aimed at first responders. Typical "double tap"?

Update: 40+ dead, 100+ wounded 30+ seriously

No direct blame on Syria yet from the Turkish government but this could get serious: Turkey sends military reinforcements to Syrian border after blast
The Turkish military dispatched additional troops to the Syrian border after car bombs killed at least 40 people in the Reyhanlı district of Hatay on Saturday.

The Cihan news agency said the military began deploying huge number of air and ground military reinforcements to Reyhanlı on the Syrian border after the blasts.

Update: Why is this guy looking so satisfied?

Posted by b on May 11, 2013 at 11:44 UTC | Permalink

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You are right, Antakya makes a difference. Video of the Reyhanli explosions though showed people immediately and spontaneously blaming Erdogan for it.

The warning has been roumoured in twitter by various sources - these here is a Kurdish source
this twitter account too
and this here is Radikal newspaper

Posted by: somebody | May 13 2013 12:51 utc | 101

this here is a photograph of the Reyhanli protest - looks also huge

Posted by: somebody | May 13 2013 13:18 utc | 102

and this Turkish analysis here puts the Kurdish peace process at the heart of the explosion

Posted by: somebody | May 13 2013 13:36 utc | 103


Oh, sure. The savior Erdoghan and the brutal Assad were kind of tongue in cheek.


Posted by: Paul | May 13 2013 13:46 utc | 104

just a reminder
rebels building bombs in Turkey for Syria

Posted by: somebody | May 13 2013 15:00 utc | 105

somebody, the guys you see in the video, most of them will end up on the streets of Europe with knowledge on how to cook your own rdx..There's something called blowback that most western politicians haven't grasped yet...

Posted by: Zico | May 13 2013 15:23 utc | 106

106) I know and they know, they seem to count on Assad to kill them ...

more on Turkey and the flow of weapons

In all likelihood, Erdogan will use the Reyhanli incident to put pressure Obama for a no-fly zone. Western diplomats in Ankara speculate that Obama will not be be swayed as Washington and Moscow seek to bring the opposition and the regime to the negotiating table. While most observers express skepticism about the outcome of the initiative, Obama is expected to ask Erdogan to support it.

This might entail staunching the flow of weapons to opposition rebels. A Syrian rebel source told Al-Monitor that this is already happening. “Its been drying up since the beginning of the year” he said. The sealing of the Akcakale border in the wake of the February car bombing has “made things worse” the source added. Obama is also expected to convey worries over alleged Turkish tolerance for members of the Al-Qaeda linked al Nusra Front. The group is labeled as a terrorist group by Washington and France is preparing to follow suit. Turkey is said to be reluctant to do so because al Nusra has proved more effective than any other force is combating regime forces. “And regime change in Syria” said a senior Turkish official “has become a matter of honor.”

Further spillover from the Syrian conflict could endanger Erdogan’s bid to become Turkey’s first elected president next year.
“Imagine that he fails and that Assad stays on,” added the official. “That would be the biggest humiliation of all.”

Posted by: somebody | May 13 2013 15:36 utc | 107

this here is Deutsche Welle - the official German equivalent to BBC or Voice of America - quoting Turkish opposition sources stating that they believe FSA responsible for the bombing - and asking how come hardly any Syrians were victims though high numbers live in the town.
They also state that only 28% of Turkish people support Erdogan's policy on Syria.

Posted by: somebody | May 14 2013 1:10 utc | 108

Radikal Turkish newspaper - the 73 security cameras of Reyhanli's city center had a system failure a few days before the bombing - none of them was working when the bombing occurred.

Posted by: somebody | May 15 2013 8:03 utc | 109

@109 -- NONE of the security cameras working in few days before Reyhanli's bombing attack?

Posted by: jawbone | May 16 2013 20:21 utc | 110

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