Turkish artillery hit targets inside Syria on Wednesday, killing several Syrian soldiers according to activists, after a mortar bomb fired from Syria killed five Turkish civilians and prompted NATO to call 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.
- Turkey strikes targets inside Syria after attack
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several Syrian soldiers were killed in the Turkish bombardment of a military post near the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, a few miles across the frontier from Akcakale. It did not say how many soldiers died.
The Turkish parliament is set to convene Thursday to discuss further military action. On Wednesday night, Turkey asked the UN Security Council to take the "necessary action" to stop Syrian aggression and ensure that Syria respect its territorial sovereignty.
Turkey's government said sought parliament approval for the deployment of Turkish troops beyond its borders, according to a memorandum sent to parliament.
Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account that Turkey had no interest in a war with Syria but would protect its borders. He said political and diplomatic initiatives would continue.
Turkey's Anadolu news reported that Turkish artillery fire, carried out by a unit stationed near the Akcakale village, had caused massive blasts in the Syrian side of the border. Security sources said that Turkey had amassed additional forces in the border area.
Turks injured by Syrian mortar (Photo: EPA)
On Wednesday, the Turkish prime minister's office announced Ankara's swift response to the Syrian mortar attack. "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 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," the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement.
Blasts in Turkish village of Akcakale (Photo: EPA)
Turkish media said Turkey has prepared a parliamentary bill for Syria that is similar to one that authorizes the Turkish military to intervene in northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish militants who have bases there. The bill is expected to be discussed in parliament on Thursday, Anadolu agency reported.
If approved, the bill could more easily open the way to unilateral action by Turkey's armed forces inside Syria, without the involvement of its Western and Arab allies.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US was "outraged that the Syrians have been shooting across the border," adding that she would speak with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the matter.
"It's a very, very dangerous situation," Clinton said. "And all responsible nations need to band together to persuade the Assad regime to have a cease-fire, quit assaulting their own people and begin the process of a political transition."
NATO said it stood by member-nation Turkey and urged Syria to put an end to "flagrant violations of international law."
The US-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 UN Security Council to take the "necessary action" to stop Syrian aggression.
In a letter to the president of the 15-nation Security Council, Turkish UN 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."
UN 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.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report
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