Turkish Military Fires into Syria After Mosque Shelled

March 31, 2014  

The Turkish military fired back into Syria on Monday, in retaliation for mortar shells and a rocket from over the border that hit a mosque in the town of Yayladagi, Reuters reported.

The Turkish Dogan news agency reported that three mortar rounds landed on Turkish soil. They were fired during fighting between the Islamist rebels in Syria and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad for control of the Armenian Christian village of Kasab.

“Our artillery troops have fired back at the region from where the shots originated,” the Hatay governor’s office was quoted by Reuters as having said in a statement on its website.

The mortar shells hit a field, the statement said, but the rocket hit a mosque next to a refugee camp, injuring a 50-year-old Syrian woman who was passing by.

This is not the first incident of cross-border fire between Syria and Turkey in the three-year-long civil war.

Tensions between Syria and Turkey have been on the rise since the government in Ankara openly criticized Assad and supported the rebels fighting his regime.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been especially vocal about ousting Assad, branding him “a terrorist who uses state terror”. After a chemical weapons attack near Damascus in August, Erdogan called for military intervention in Syria that would topple Assad’s regime.

The heightened tensions between Turkey and Syria have led to several cross-border incidents, including the explosion of a Syrian mortar in Turkish territory, which killed five civilians.

Just last week, Syria accused the Turkish government of shooting down a Syrian jet fighter in their territory. Turkish officials said the plane had crossed over into Turkish airspace.

On Friday, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Al-Ja’afari, accused the governments of Turkey and Israel of a “public alliance of supporting terrorism” in his country.

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