Turkey retaliates after Syrian mortar shell lands in country's southern region

Ankara, Oct. 6 (Xinhua-ANI): Turkey fired back after a mortar shell believed to be fired by Syrian troops at opposition groups on the border landed Saturday morning in southern Turkey, an official statement said.

"The Syrian mortar shell landed close to a rural area near the Guvecci village of Yayladagi town of Hatay province. Turkey retaliated against Syria by firing four mortar shells on Syria," said the statement issued by Hatay Governor's Office on its website.

Turkey and Syria have been exchanging fire sporadically on the border for days, after a mortar shell from the Syrian side fell Wednesday in the Turkish border town of Akcakale in the southeastern Sanliurfa province and killed five Turks.

On Friday, a Syrian mortar shell fell at a spot about 50 meters away from the border in Hatay's Asagipulluyazi village. Turkish army "fired back at targets" within Syria, but did not cause any casualties, said Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz.

The Turkish government said Wednesday in a statement that "Our armed forces in border region have given the required response in line with the rule of engagements. Targets in Syria, which were detected by radar, were shot by shelling."

"Turkey will never remain unresponsive against these sorts of provocations of Syrian regime within the framework of rules of engagement and international law," the statement added.

In an emergency session on Thursday, Turkish parliament approved a motion for cross-border military operations inside Syria.

Ankara has repeatedly complained about the spillover of Syrian artillery and gun fire into its territory. Last week, the Turkish government signaled that it would take action if mortar strikes were repeated on its territory from Syria.

Turkey, once an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but now a leading voice urging him to quit, shelters more than 90,000 Syrian refugees and has provided Syrian rebel army leaders with sanctuary. (Xinhua-ANI)