Turkey and Syria Trade Cross-Border Attacks

John Hudson
The Atlantic Wire

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, sparking 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:

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