Turkish army returns fire after mortar fired from Syria-UPDATED

The Turkish military returned fire after a mortar bomb shot from Syria landed in countryside in southern Turkey on Saturday

Turkish army returns fire after mortar fired from Syria-UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

A Syrian artillery shells landed on Turkish territory on Saturday, the Governorship of southern province of Hatay said.

The artillery shells landed on a rural location close to the Guvecci Border Military Station, the Hatay Governorship stressed.

"The Syrian mortar shells landed close to the Guvecci village of Yayladagi town in a rural area. Turkey retailated against Syria by firing 4 mortar shells on Syria," the Hatay Governorship also said in a statement posted on their web site.

It was the latest in a series of Turkish retaliatory strikes in response to mortar bombs and shelling by Syrian forces that have killed five Turkish civilians further east along the border. The report did not give any further details on the Turkish retaliation.

Anatolian said the mortar round hit countryside near Guvecci village in the Yayladagi area amid intense clashes on the Syrian side of the border in Idlib province.

"Military units on the Turkish border launched retaliatory fire immediately," the agency said, without identifying its source or mentioning any casualties.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned on Friday his country was "not far" from war with Syria following cross-border attacks this week - words which highlighted the danger that the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Asaad will drag in its neighbours.

In a belligerent speech to a crowd in Istanbul, Erdogan warned the Assad government it would be making a fatal mistake if it picked a fight with Turkey.

The speech followed a Syrian mortar barrage on a town in southeast Turkey that killed five people on Tuesday.

Turkish artillery bombarded Syrian military targets on Wednesday and Thursday in response, killing several Syrian soldiers, and the Turkish parliament has authorised cross-border military action in the event of further aggression.

"We are not interested in war, but we're not far from it either," Erdogan said in his speech.

"Those who attempt to test Turkey's deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here they are making a fatal mistake."

At the United Nations, the Security Council condemned the original Syrian attack and demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately.

The United States has said it stands by its NATO ally's right to defend itself against aggression spilling over from Syria's war.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in the revolt against Assad, which began with peaceful street protests but is now a full-scale civil war also fought on sectarian lines.

Syria's ally Russia said it had received assurances from Damascus that the strike on Turkey had been a tragic accident but Erdogan dismissed it, saying this was the eighth time Syrian mortar rounds had hit Turkish ground.

Turkey has made clear it is ready to launch retaliatory strikes again if the war spills over the border but it has also said it will act under international law and in coordination with other foreign powers.

Despite his belligerent rhetoric on Friday, Erdogan has said the parliamentary vote was a deterrent and he was not interested in war.

Russia urges restraint

Russia appealed to Turkey on Friday to stay calm and avoid any action that could increase tension with Syria after a series of cross-border attacks provoked stern warnings from Ankara.

The Russian statement was a response to the Turkish parliament's decision on Thursday authorising cross-border military action in the event of further aggression.

"We express the hope that the Turkish side will show restraint and will not take any steps that would lead to further aggravation of the situation in the region," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Russia opposes foreign intervention in Syria, an ally and arms customer since the Soviet era, and together with China has vetoed three U.N. Security Ciouncil resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad's government.

On Thursday, Russia joined the other Security Council members in condemning the Syrian mortar attack on a Turkish border town after Western members revised a draft of the statement to accommodate some of Moscow's concerns.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ekim 2012, 15:19