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The Battle for Syria

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Syrian Shelling Strikes Turkish Town--Ankara Rushes Forces to Border

October 3rd 2012

Turkish Tanks
Turkish Tanks on the Move

Turkey says its armed forces have fired on targets inside Syria in retaliation for a Syrian mortar attack that killed five Turkish civilians in a Turkish border town. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office said Turkish forces in the border region immediately shelled Syrian targets spotted by radar Wednesday, in response to what it called a "heinous" attack on the Turkish town of Akcakale. Official Turkish sources confirmed a mobilization of its forces at the border.

“Our armed forces at the border region responded to this atrocious attack with artillery fire on points in Syria that were detected with radar, in line with the rules of engagement,” the Turkish statement said. “Turkey, acting within the rules of engagement and international laws, will never leave unreciprocated such provocations by the Syrian regime against our national security,” it said. Turkey’s NTV television said Turkish radar had pinpointed the positions from which the shells were fired on Akcakale, and that those positions were hit.

According to Mahir Zeynalov, a journalist with the Turkish paper Today’s Zaman, Turkey was deploying a “huge number of tanks, artillery and missile batteries to the Syria border. Akcakale mayor Abdulhakim Ayhan told CNN Turk television that a Syrian mortar struck a house in the community earlier Wednesday. He said a woman and a child were among the dead. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu protested the Syrian attack to the NATO alliance, of which Ankara is a member, and to the United Nations.

A NATO official said that alliance ambassadors were meeting in emergency session Wednesday to discuss the situation. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon responded to the cross-border fighting by urging Syria to respect the territorial sovereignty of its neighbors. He said the escalation shows how the Syrian conflict is increasingly harming neighboring states. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington is "outraged" at the Syrian mortar strike on Turkey, a fellow NATO alliance member. Speaking Wednesday, she expressed regret at the loss of Turkish lives and said she would speak to Davutoglu, her Turkish counterpart, to discuss next steps.

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