Turkish artillery hit targets near Syria's Tel Abyad border town for a second day on Thursday, killing several Syrian soldiers according to activists and security sources, after a mortar bomb fired from the area killed five Turkish civilians.
Turkey's government said "aggressive action" against its territory by Syria's military had become a serious threat to its national security and sought parliamentary approval for the deployment of Turkish troops beyond its borders.
"Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary," Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account.
"Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue," he said.
In the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month uprising in Syria, Turkey hit back after what it called "the last straw" when a mortar hit a residential neighborhood of the southern border town of Akcakale on Wednesday.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.
"We know that they have suffered losses," a Turkish security source told Reuters, without giving further details.
NATO said it stood by member-nation Turkey and urged Syria to put an end to "flagrant violations of international law."The U.S.-led Western military alliance held an urgent late night meeting in Brussels to discuss the matter and in New York, Turkey asked the U.N. Security Council to take the "necessary action" to stop Syrian aggression.
In a letter to the president of the 15-nation Security Council, Turkish U.N. Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan called the firing of the mortar bomb "a breach of international peace and security.U.N. 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.
Members had hoped to issue the statement on Wednesday, but Russia - a staunch ally of Syria's, which along with China has vetoed three U.N. resolutions condemning President Bashar al-Assad's government - asked for a delay, diplomats said.
Turkey's parliament had already been due to vote on Thursday on extending a five-year-old authorization for foreign military operations, an agreement originally intended to allow strikes on Kurdish militant bases in northern Iraq.
But the memorandum signed by Erdogan and sent to parliament overnight said that despite repeated warnings and diplomatic initiatives, the Syrian military had launched aggressive action against Turkish territory, presenting "additional risks".
"This situation has reached a level of creating a serious threat and risks to our national security. At this point the need has emerged to take the necessary measures to act promptly and swiftly against additional risks and threats," it said.
It was not clear who fired the mortar into Turkey, but security sources said it had come from near Tel Abyad and that Turkey was increasing the number of troops along its border.
"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," Erdogan's office said in a statement late on Wednesday.
"Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security."Syria said it was investigating the source of the mortar bomb and urged restraint. Information Minister Omran Zoabi conveyed his condolences to(...)More.