(ANKARA, Turkey) — Fears that the ongoing conflict in Syria might spread beyond its borders were realized Wednesday when Turkey responded militarily to Syrian mortar fire that killed a mother, her children and a relative in the town of Akcakale.
In a sharply worded statement from the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish government said “Targets were shelled in locations identified by radar.”
The statement broadcast by the official news agency added, “Turkey, in accordance with the rules of engagement and international law, will never leave such provocations by the Syrian regime against our national security unrequited.”
The cross-border strikes continued on Thursday, with Ibrahim Kalin, a top official in Erdogan’s office, tweeting: “Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary.”
The two countries are at odds over the 19-month-long Syrian conflict, with Erdogan having denounced President Bashar al-Assad for killing his own people and the regime in Damascus blaming Turkey, the U.S. and other for fueling the crisis.
Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians have sought safety in Turkish refugee camps across the border.
It’s believed that the five Turkish victims were killed by stray mortar shells, but it’s unknown if they were fired by Syrian military or rebel forces.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed outrage over the incident while NATO warned Syria to stop its flagrant violations of international law.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN