- Turkish PM: ‘Our armed forces responded immediately to abominable attack’
- Five people killed when Syrian shells struck border village earlier in the day
- Action by Ankara threatens to drag the West into military conflict with Assad
PUBLISHED:15:09 EST, 3 October 2012| UPDATED:15:16 EST, 3 October 2012
Turkey fired on targets inside Syria tonight in a dangerous escalation of the war which has engulfed President Assad’s country.
The artillery strikes were in retaliation for the bombing of a Turkish village earlier in the day which killed five civilians.
Last night, the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement that his country’s military had struck targets inside Syria.
The action of Ankara threatens to drag the West into a military conflict, which has so far, confined itself to financial support for the rebels fighting Assad.
Earlier in the evening, Turkey, which has been a Nato member since 1952, had consulted with the military alliance and the United Nations about any response to the Syrian attack.
Mr Erdogan had warned Syria it would respond to any further violations of its territory.
In a statement, he said: ‘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.
‘Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security.’
On the attack: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (left) says he will not ‘leave unanswered such kinds of provocation’ by President Assad’s regime
During the conflict there have been several incidents when Syrian jet fighters had encroached on Turkish territory.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had spoken by telephone with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the foreign ministers of several U.N. Security Council member countries about the incident, the statement said.
Davutoglu had also agreed with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the need for an emergency meeting of NATO members, the statement said.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was also quoted as saying that Syria must be made to account for the incident and demanded a response under international law.
After a Syrian strike that damaged homes and offices in the southeastern town of Akcakale last week, the Turks warned they would take action if it happened again.
Troops and air defences were also beefed up along its 560-mile border with Syria earlier in the summer after a Turkish reconnaissance jet was shot down.
Residents in Akcakale, infuriated by the increasing spillover of violence from Syria’s civil war, took the streets last night to protest against the local authorities failure in protecting the border community.
‘The latest mortar round hit right in the middle of the neighbourhood. The wife and four children from the same family died,’ said Ahmet Emin Meshurgul, the local head of the Turkish Red Crescent.
‘People here are anxious, because we got hit before. Security forces tried to convince people to empty the neighborhood near the border, but now we’ve been hit right in the middle of the town,’ he added.
Although the Turkish government previously had good relations with President Bashar Assad, it sided with the rebels following the uprising and has allowed them to organize on Turkish soil.
The UN Secretary-General urged Turkey to keep all channels of communication with Turkey open to avoid increased tensions.
The new flashpoint emerged after at least 34 people were killed and dozens more injured in a series of explosions in the centre of Syria’s second city, Aleppo.
A military officer’s club and a hotel being used by the Syrian army bore the brunt of the suicide car bomb attacks.
‘It was like a series of earthquakes,’ said one shocked eyewitness. ‘It was terrifying, terrifying.’
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, most of the dead in Aleppo’s main Saadallah al-Jabari Square were regime troops.
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