The Freeland File
Aerospace & Defense
Global Market Data
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Jack & Suzy Welch
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Photos of the week
Our best photos from the past week. Slideshow
Images of September
Venezuela's Chavez re-elected to extend socialist rule
Chavez supporters party on anticipated win in Venezuela vote
07 Oct 2012
Pressure is on Biden after Obama's lackluster debate performance
07 Oct 2012
Tiny, new African dinosaur species unveiled
04 Oct 2012
Obama acknowledges "bumps in the road" after poor debate
Romney’s strong debate showing puts Europe on edge
Obama and Romney battle over economy at debate
Weak U.S. labor market looms ahead of elections
Our day's top images, in-depth photo essays and offbeat slices of life. See the best of Reuters photography. See more | Photo caption
Battle for Aleppo
The battle for Syria's biggest city. Slideshow
Looking for work
The frontlines of the unemployment crisis. Slideshow
Turkey fires artillery into Syria after shelling
Car bomb blast at police building in Damascus: state media
Sun, Oct 7 2012
Analysis & Opinion
Can Romney put foreign policy in play?
Mission head says MSF doctors need better access to Syria conflict
United Nations »
Middle East Turmoil »
Turkey returns fire after Syrian mortar attack
Sun, Oct 7 2012
Syrians rebels seize military outpost on Turkish border
Turkey returns fire after Syrian mortar strike on Akcakale
Turkish military buildup on border
1 of 13. Smoke rises at the Akcakale border gate after a shell fired from Syria landed on the Turkish-Syrian border in Sanliurfa province October 7, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Veli Gurgah/Anadolu Agency
By Daren Butler
Mon Oct 8, 2012 1:07am EDT
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish forces fired across the frontier into Syria on Sunday after a shell launched from Syria landed in Turkey's border town of Akcakale, underlining Ankara's warning that it will respond with force to any violence spilling over into its territory.
It was the fifth consecutive day of Turkish retaliation against incoming bombardment from northern Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been battling rebels who control swathes of land close to the Turkish frontier.
The exchanges are the most serious cross-border violence in Syria's revolt against Assad, which began in March last year with protests for reform but has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones which threatens to draw in regional powers.
The Syrian shell landed near a plant belonging to the Turkish Grain Board, the Dogan news agency reported, several hundred meters from the center of Akcakale where five civilians were killed on Wednesday in previous Syrian artillery fire.
The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said shells fired in retaliation from Turkey on Sunday landed near the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, where rebels have been battling Assad's forces. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
A Turkish border unit also returned fire after a mortar bomb launched from Syria at around 7 p.m. hit an uninhabited area of Altinozu at the western end of the Syrian border, the Hatay province governor's office said.
It said the mortar bomb, believed to have been launched by Syrian government forces, did not result in casualties.
The violence continued inside Syria too, with state media and opposition activists saying a car bomb exploded near a police headquarters in the capital Damascus. State TV said one person was wounded. The Observatory said people had been killed and wounded but gave no details.
NATO member Turkey was once an ally of Assad's but turned against him after his violent response to the uprising in which activists say 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.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey does not want war, but warned Syria not to test its resolve.
"You have to be ready at every moment to go to war if it is necessary. If you are not ready for this, you are not a state," Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul on Sunday.
"What did our forefathers say? 'If you want peace prepare for war' ... If you suffer an outrage, you will do what is necessary. Look, we are retaliating in kind," he said. "If you strike, you will see the retaliation immediately."
Damascus has said its fire hit Turkey accidentally.
Turkey and other Sunni Muslim powers in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have backed the rebels who are trying to topple Assad, a member of Syria's Alawite minority which is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Iran's Shi'ite rulers, and the Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, are strong Assad allies.
The cross-border fire at Akcakale followed a similar incident on Saturday when three mortar bombs fired from Syria landed near the Turkish village of Guvecci, prompting retaliatory fire from Turkey.
The British-based Observatory, which monitors violence through a network of activists inside Syria, said that Syrian barrage was part of a fierce battle between Assad's forces and rebels for control of the border village of Khirbet al-Joz.
It said rebels seized control of the area after a 12-hour battle on Saturday in which at least 40 Syrian soldiers and nine rebels were killed. The death toll could not be independently verified.
On Sunday, a rebel flag flew over a Syrian military post in the area, visible from the Turkish side of the border.
"In the last four days there were heavy clashes going on here. We couldn't sleep. Yesterday morning, the Syrian army controlled this area. Now it is calmer," said Turkish villager Musa Sasak, 27.
Although outgunned by Assad's forces, rebels have taken control of several border crossings with Turkey and Iraq as well as large areas of rural territory.
They are also battling for control of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city, and have kept a foothold in the suburbs of Damascus despite a heavy army counter-offensive, backed by air strikes from jets and helicopter gunships.
Despite military setbacks, a collapsing economy and the loss of four of top security officials in a rebel bombing in mid-July, Assad remains confident of victory, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Germany's Der Spiegel magazine.
"I met in Damascus a president who was very aware of the critical situation. He did not appear detached but self-confident and combative," said Salehi, who held talks with Assad two weeks ago. "The president appeared convinced it was possible to win the conflict in Syria through military means."
Salehi added that Assad was "open for any solution that came from within Syria", but rejected being pushed out by foreign pressure, adding there was no question of him seeking asylum. The Assad family has been in power in Syria for 42 years.
International pressure on Assad has been curbed by deadlock at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China have blocked Western-backed draft resolutions which could have led to U.N. sanctions on Syria.
With major powers paralyzed, the death toll has escalated to more than 1,000 a week, according to Observatory figures.
At least 70 people were killed across Syria on Sunday, the group said. The bodies of 21 men had been found in the town of Hameh, in Damascus province, believed to have been killed by soldiers, while at least 13 people were killed in Aleppo, Syria's biggest city where Assad's forces have been fighting rebels for two months.
(Additional Reporting by Sarah Marsh in Berlin; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Jon Hemming and Alison Williams)
Middle East Turmoil
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.