Turkey fired on Syrian targets for a second day Thursday but said it has no intention of declaring war, despite tensions after deadly shelling from Syria killed five civilians in a Turkish border town.
Turkey’s Parliament in an emergency session passed a bill authorising the military to launch cross-border operations in Syria. The bill could more easily open the way to unilateral action by Turkey’s armed forces inside Syria, without the involvement of its Western and Arab allies.
“Several” Syrian soldiers died when Turkish troops shelled their military post in response to earlier cross-border mortar fire which smashed into a Turkish town killing five people, a watchdog said on Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said overnight shelling across the frontier by Turkish troops hit a Syrian army post near the border town of Tel Abyad. It gave no exact figure for the number of soldiers killed.
The cross-border tensions escalated on Wednesday after a shell fired from inside Syria landed on a home in the Turkish village of Akcakale, killing a woman, her three daughters and another woman, and wounding at least 10 others, according to Turkish media.
Turkish response was prompt. It fired salvos of artillery rounds deep inside Syria. The Nato military alliance, of which Turkey is a member, met at an emergency session in Brussels, condemned the attack on Turkey and demanded “the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally”. It also urged the Syrian regime to “put an end to flagrant violations of international law”.
Syrian information minister Omran al-Zoubi, meanwhile, offered his “sincerest condolences on behalf of the Syrian government to the family of the deceased and the Turkish people”.
An aide to Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that Turkey has no intention of declaring war on Syria but that the bill being debated in Parliament on Thursday was intended to give “Syria a warning”.