Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
said Thursday that his country does not want war with Syria
but that it is determined to protect its borders and people.
Erdogan was speaking at a news conference held hours after Turkey's parliament approved a bill authorizing military operations against Syria.
Earlier Thursday, Turkey fired on targets in Syria for a second day following a Syrian shelling that killed five civilians in a Turkish border town.
Aftermath of Syrian strike (Photo: AFP)
Erdogan suggested the Syrian shelling was not accidental, saying that such shells had fallen on Turkish territory on seven previous occasions since the civil war began there.
"We want peace and security and nothing else. We could never want to start a war, "Erdogan said."Turkey is a country which is capable of protecting its people and borders. No one should attempt to test our determination on the issue."
He was speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Iranian Vice-President Reza Rahimiin in the city of Akcakale.
Meanwhile, Syria's UN envoy said his government is not seeking any escalation of violence with Turkey and wants to maintain good neighborly relations.
Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the government hasn't apologized for the shelling from Syria that killed five Turkish civilians because it is waiting for the outcome of an investigation on the source of the firing.
He read reporters a letter he delivered to the deeply divided UN Security Council that sent Syria's "deepest condolences" to the families of the victims "and to the friendly and brotherly people of Turkey."
Also Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US regarded Turkey's response to Syrian mortar fire on Wednesday as appropriate, proportionate and designed to deter any future violations of its sovereignty by Syria
Earlier, Turkey's parliament gave authorization for military operations outside Turkish borders if the government deemed them necessary.
Turkish parliament (Photo: EPA)
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said that Syria
has apologized for the attack.
"Syria accepts that it did it and apologizes. They said nothing like this will happen again. That's good. The UN mediated and spoke to Syria in the evening," Atalay said.
The government had sought parliamentary approval to send soldiers to foreign countries in a memorandum which said that "aggressive action" by Syria's armed forces against Turkish territory posed a serious threat to national security.
The Anadolu Agency said legislators voted in favor of the bill that gives the government authority for one year to send troops or warplanes to strike Syrian targets whenever it deems it necessary.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
said that Russia had been informed by Syria that that the attack was a "tragic accident" that will not be repeated.
RIA Novosti news agency said Lavrov had also told reporters during a visit to Islamabad that Russia had urged Syria to acknowledge this in public.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters the Turkish response was "understandable" but warned against an escalation, while EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
called on Syria to respect the territorial integrity of its neighbours.
Reuters and AP contributed to this report