Turkey strikes back at Syria after mortar kills five

by
October 4, 2012

(Reuters) – Turkish artillery hit targets inside Syria on Wednesday after a mortar bomb fired from Syrian territory killed five Turkish civilians, while NATO called for an immediate end to Syria’s “aggressive acts”.

In the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month uprising in Syria, Turkey hit back at what it called “the last straw” when a mortar hit a residential neighborhood of the southern border town of Akcakale.

NATO said it stood by member-nation Turkey and urged Syria to put an end to “flagrant violations of international law”.

The U.S.-led Western military alliance held an urgent late-night meeting in Brussels to discuss the matter and later on Wednesday in New York, Turkey asked the U.N. Security Council to take the “necessary action” to stop Syrian aggression.

In a letter to the president of the 15-nation Security Council, Turkish U.N. Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan called the firing of the mortar bomb “a flagrant violation of international law as well as a breach of international peace and security.” [ID:nL1E8L3M0K]

U.N. diplomats said Security Council members hoped it would issue a non-binding statement on Thursday that would condemn the mortar attack “in the strongest terms” and demand an end to violations of Turkey’s territorial sovereignty.

Members had hoped to issue the statement on Wednesday, but Russia – a staunch ally of Syria’s, which along with China has vetoed three U.N. resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad’s government – asked for a delay, diplomats said.

There were no immediate details of the Turkish strikes against Syria, nor was it clear who had fired the mortar into Turkish territory, but security sources said Turkey was increasing the number of troops along its border.

“Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately to this abominable attack in line with their rules of engagement; targets were struck through artillery fire against places in Syria identified by radar,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s office said in a statement.

“Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security.”

Syria said it was investigating the source of the mortar bomb and urged restraint. Information Minister Omran Zoabi conveyed his condolences to the Turkish people, saying his country respected the sovereignty of neighboring countries.

To read more, visit: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/04/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE88J0X720121004

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