Turkish artillery fires into Syria for fifth straight day

Turkish artillery fires into Syria for fifth straight day

Mortar shells land near Turkish border town of Akçakale, causing no injuries

Turkish Armed Forces T-155 Fırtına artillery (photo courtesy of Turkish Armed Forces)
Turkish Armed Forces T-155 Fırtına artillery (photo courtesy of Turkish Armed Forces)

AKÇAKALE, Turkey — Turkish artillery fired toward Syria minutes after a Syrian shell landed in Turkish territory Sunday.

The Syrian shell landed some 200 meters (200 yards) inside Turkey, near the border town of Akçakale. A short time later, at least six mortars could be heard fired from Turkey. It was the fifth day in a row that Turkish artillery fired into Syria in response to shelling.

Akçakale Mayor Abdulhakim Ayhan confirmed that Turkish artillery immediately returned fire. He said shrapnel from the Syrian mortar caused some damage to a grain depot, but no one was hurt by the shelling.

The Anadolu Agency reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have been shelling the town of Tal Abyad, just across from Akçakale, which is controlled by Syrian rebels.

The Turks have been returning fire since Wednesday when Syrian shelling killed five civilians in a Turkish border town.

In its retaliations against Syrian artillery fire, Turkey has deployed howitzers, fighter jets, and weapon-locating radar to detect and pinpoint targets, Turkish daily Sabah reported on Friday.

The Turkish military employed ground-based AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar to detect the source of inbound mortar and artillery shells. F-4 Phantom fighter jets, similar to the one downed by Syria in June, scrambled to hone in on the targets with lasers. Turkish-made T-155 Fırtına (Storm) howitzers — capable of firing six artillery rounds per minute — then fired at the targets.

On Saturday, Free Syrian Army forces captured a Syrian government outpost located near the Turkish border town of Güveççi, Reuters reported on Sunday. Earlier on Saturday, mortar shells fired from Syria landed near Güveççi.

Rebels captured the three-story white building, situated atop a hill a mile inside Syria opposite Güveççi, and raised the Free Syrian Army flag, villagers told Reuters.

Turkey has vowed to retaliate against the shelling from Syria while Turkey’s parliament this week approved a bill that would allow cross border military operations there. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Damascus not to test Turkey’s patience.

Relations between Turkey and Syria, once strong allies, deteriorated sharply after the uprising against Assad began in March last year. Turkey became one of the harshest critics of Assad’s crackdown while Syria accused Ankara of aiding rebels.

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