Turkey returns fire after fresh Syrian shelling
ANKARA: The Turkish army early Saturday returned fire after fresh shelling from Syria hit the border province of Hatay, local officials said.
“A mortar landed today at 7:00 am about 50 metres inside Turkish territory in an open space about 700 metres from the village of Guvecci and about 300 metres from a police station,” the office of the Hatay governor said in a statement.
No casualties were reported, it added.
The Turkish army responded firing four rounds of mortars, the statement said, adding that the Syrian fire had come from loyalists who were firing at rebels near the Syrian-Turkish border.
The latest exchange came three days after Syrian shelling killed five Turkish nationals in another border town, Akcakale, triggering retaliatory fire and ratcheting up the tense relations between the neighbours.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan again warned Syria on Friday that it would pay “a big price” for further attacks.
The warning came a day after his government obtained a one-year mandate from parliament authorising military raids into Syria if necessary.
Erdogan said Turkey was not interested in war but would not hesitate to retaliate against any attack and violation of its national security.
Wednesday’s incident marked the first time Syrian shells killed Turkish nationals since the uprising against the regime in Damascus began in March 2011.
The UN Security Council issued a toughly worded statement condemning Syria’s initial shelling, although it was a rung down from a formal resolution.
It said the shelling “highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbours and on regional peace,” and “demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately and are not repeated.”