Many Syrian troops killed in Turkish strike
Beirut, October 4, 2012
Several Syrian soldiers were killed in an overnight Turkish bombardment of a Syrian military post near the border town of Tel Abyad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.
It gave no figure for the number of soldiers killed in the Turkish attack, which came after a mortar bomb fired from Syrian territory killed five Turkish civilians on Wednesday.
In the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month uprising in Syria, Turkey hit back at what it called "the last straw" when a mortar hit a residential neighbourhood of the southern border town of Akcakale.
Nato said it stood by member-nation Turkey and urged Syria to put an end to "flagrant violations of international law".
The US-led Western military alliance held an urgent late-night meeting in Brussels to discuss the matter and later on Wednesday in New York, Turkey asked the UN Security Council to take the "necessary action" to stop Syrian aggression.
UN diplomats said Security Council members hoped it would issue a non-binding statement on Thursday that would condemn the mortar attack "in the strongest terms" and demand an end to violations of Turkey's territorial sovereignty.
"Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately to this abominable attack in line with their rules of engagement; targets were struck through artillery fire against places in Syria identified by radar," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's office said in a statement.
"Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security."
Syria said it was investigating the source of the mortar bomb and urged restraint. Information Minister Omran Zoabi conveyed his condolences to the Turkish people, saying his country respected the sovereignty of neighbouring countries.
Washington sees Turkey as a pivotal player in backing Syria's opposition and planning for the post-Assad era. The White House said on Wednesday it stood by "our Turkish ally". But Ankara has found itself increasingly isolated and frustrated by a lack of international consensus on how to end the conflict. -Reuters
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