Turkey, Syria exchange fire again as tension escalates

The exchange is the sixth between the two countries since a Syrian mortar round landed in Turkey last Wednesday

Turkey’s military struck back at Syrian military positions on Monday after a shell fired from Syria landed in a Turkish border area amid escalating tension between both countries.

Turkey retaliated after the shell landed in Altinozu district, in southeastern Hatay province, at around 12:00 GMT on Monday, a Turkish official told AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

The exchange is the sixth between the two countries since a Syrian mortar round landed in Turkey last Wednesday, wiping off a family of five, and drawing a military response from Turkey.

Turkey promptly struck Syrian positions in retaliation, and its parliament gave approval for a military action in Syria if necessary.

Syria apologized for the attack and promised investigations. However, since the encounter, both countries have had exchanges of fire at least four times.

The reply on Wednesday was Turkey’s first since the deadly conflict seeking to remove Syria’s President, Bashir al Asaad, erupted in 2011. The conflict has killed several thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

“Turkish military retaliates immediately after every single Syrian shell,” the official was quoted as saying. “We have anti-aircraft batteries pounding Syrian targets.”

Earlier, Celalettin Lekesiz, Hatay’s governor, said a total of six Syrian shells had hit the province so far, without any casualties, Aljazeera television said.

It was not immediately clear if the governor’s figures included Monday’s shelling – the sixth consecutive day of Turkish retaliation, the TV added.

Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, on Monday warned against a spillover of the Syrian conflict into Turkey.

“Our government is in constant touch with our general staff in this process,” Mr. Gul was quoted as saying by Anatolia, the state news agency.

“Whatever is necessary is being done as you already see, and will continue to be done,” he added.

Also on Monday, Abdulbasit Sieda, head of the opposition Syrian National Council, reiterated his group’s call for foreign military intervention to support the rebels.

“We have called for a no fly zone [and] humanitarian corridors to protect civilians,” Mr. Sieda told Al Jazeera from Idlib, Syria.

“We now have 3 million internally displaced people and half a million refugees in neighboring countries. These huge numbers require international protection.

“If they are not able to impose a no-fly zone then provide our fighters on the grounds with anti-aircraft weapons to preempt further airstrikes and destruction,” he added.


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