Turkey and Syria Trade Cross-Border Attacks

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Update 4:57 p.m.:  NATO's emergency meeting on Syrian shelling has begun. The alliance issued a statement strongly condemning Syria's actions:

The most recent shelling on 3 October 20l2, which caused the death of five Turkish citizens and injured many, constitutes a cause of greatest concern for, and is strongly condemned by, all Allies.

In the spirit of indivisibility of security and solidarity deriving from the Washington Treaty, the Alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an Ally, and urges the Syrian regime to put an end to flagrant violations of international law. 

Update 4:00 p.m.: A U.S. defense official tells CNN's Chris Lawrence that there's "nothing to suggest it's going to become a broder conflict," adding that the general consensus is Syria is simply saying "don't mess with us." 

Update 3:48 p.m.: A report in Russia Today suggests that Turkish tanks, artillery and missile batteries are being deployed to the country's border with Syria. 

Original post. The civil war in Syria has taken one step closer toward a regional war as Turkish artillery fired on targets in Syria today, according to a statement by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The attack is apparently in retaliation to a mortar attack that left five Turkish nationals dead in southeastern Turkey earlier today. According to Al Jazeera, Erdogan said the retaliatory attacks were within the rules of engagement. Shortly before Turkey's announcement, Reuters reported that NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen agreed to convene an urgent meeting of NATO members, following a plea by Turkey's foreign minister. (That news sparked speculation about the military alliance responding on Turkey's behalf.)

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Amid the chaotic backdrop, the U.N. has moved quickly to try and prevent an escalation of the conflict, which has brought the former allies uncomfortably close to war. "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Turkey on Wednesday to keep all channels of communication open with Syria to avoid increased tensions between the neighbors over a mortar bomb from Syria that landed in Turkey," reported Reuters. Ban's spokesperson said his boss "encouraged the minister to keep open all channels of communications with the Syrian authorities with a view to lessening any tension that could build up as a result of the incident." Apparently, Turkey felt a more pugnacious response was necessary to the shelling, which the BBC reports killed a woman and her three children. Below is a copy of the statement by Turkey, translated into English via Google Translate:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.