Turkey retaliates for Syria strike
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said today the "worst-case scenarios" were now playing out in Syria and Turkey would do everything necessary to protect itself, as its army fired back for a sixth day after a shell from Syria flew over the border.
Mr Gul said the violence in Turkey's southern neighbour, where a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad has evolved into a civil war that threatens to draw in regional powers, could not go on indefinitely and Dr Assad's fall was inevitable.
"The worst-case scenarios are taking place right now in Syria ... Our government is in constant consultation with the Turkish military.
Whatever is needed is being done immediately as you see, and it will continue to be done," Mr Gul said.
"There will be a change, a transition sooner or later ... It is a must for the international community to take effective action before Syria turns into a bigger wreck and further blood is shed, that is our main wish," he told reporters in Ankara.
Turkey's armed forces have bolstered their presence along the 900 km (560 mile) border with Syria in recent days and have been responding in kind to gunfire and shelling spilling across from the south, where Dr Assad's forces have been battling rebels who control swathes of territory.
Turkey's chief of staff, General Necdet Ozel, travelled to the southern city of Adana and was due to inspect the region patrolled by Turkey's 2nd Army, which protects the border with Syria, the military said on its website.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said the escalation of the conflict along the Turkey-Syria border, as well as the impact of the crisis on Lebanon, were "extremely dangerous".
"The situation in Syria has dramatically worsened. It is posing serious risks to the stability of Syria's neighbours and the entire region," he told a conference in Strasbourg, France.
Mr Ban said UN and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi would be heading back to the region this week.
The exchanges with Turkey mark the most serious cross-border violence in Syria's revolt against Dr Assad, which began in March last year with peaceful protests for reform and has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones.
"From now on, every attack on us will be responded to immediately. Every attack that targets our sovereignty, our security of life and property will find its response," Turkish government spokesman Bulent Arinc said after a cabinet meeting.
Parliament last week authorised the deployment of Turkish troops beyond its borders although government officials said the move was meant as a deterrent rather than a "war mandate".