Turkey and Syria traded fire today for the fourth straight day as Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces fought with rebels near the Turkish border, reported the Associated Press.
Syrian Defense Minister General Fahd Jassem al-Freij meanwhile promised to crush the uprising and put an end to months of violence, while the embattled President Assad made a rare television appearance to commemorate the victims of the 1973 war with Israel, according to AP.
Today's cross-border violence began in the border town of Guvecci, where one resident said: “Artillery shells and mortar rounds are landing around 20 metres from the Turkish border. They are even firing at vehicles and are wounding people here.”
Local Turkish officials said troops later fired across the border again after a different border village was hit by a shell today, according to AP. There were no casualties, and local officials told AP it could have come from the rebels and hit the town by mistake.
The violence comes after Syrian shelling killed five Turkish civilians — two women and three children — on Wednesday, and another shell was fired into Turkey on Friday, raising the specter of a wider regional conflict.
Despite previous provocation — Syria in June shot down a Turkish fighter jet, killing the two crewmen — this was the first time Ankara had taken military action across the border since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, the BBC noted.
Turkey, a NATO member, has reserved the right to respond to continued shelling, and Turkey's parliament voted on Thursday to allow cross-border military operations in Syria.
Further, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned Damascus not to test Turkey's "limits and determination," the Associated Press reported.
While Ankara has said Turkey doesn't want war, Erdogan has said the country would not shy away from armed conflict.
The Jerusalem Post cited Erdogan as warning Syria that testing Turkey would be a "fatal mistake."
The Syrian mortar fired Saturday landed near the village of Guvecci in Hatay province, the BBC reported, citing Turkey's Anadolu Agency.
Turkish troops responded immediately.
However, Damascus said the mortar strayed into Turkish territory accidentally.
No one was killed or wounded in the shelling.
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