By Daren Butler, Reuters
ISTANBUL | Turkey returned fire after Syrian mortar bombs landed in a field in southern Turkey on Saturday, the day after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned Syria that Turkey would not shy away from war if provoked.
It was the fourth day of Turkish retaliation for firing by Syrian forces that killed five Turkish civilians on Wednesday.
The exchanges are the most serious cross-border violence in Syria’s conflict, which began as a democracy uprising but has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones. They highlight how the crisis could destabilize the region.
NATO member Turkey was once an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but turned against him after his violent response to an uprising in which, according to the United Nations, more than 30,000 people have died.
Turkey has nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps on its territory, has allowed rebel leaders sanctuary and has led calls for Assad to quit. Its armed forces are far larger than Syria’s.
Erdogan said on Friday his country did not want war but warned Syria not to make a “fatal mistake” by testing its resolve. Damascus has said its fire hit Turkey accidentally.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday that parliament’s authorization of possible cross-border military action was designed as a deterrent.
To read more, visit: Â http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/06/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE88J0X720121006
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