Turkey returns fire after strike
Turkey returned fire after Syrian mortar bombs landed in a field in southern Turkey today, the day after prime minister Tayyip Erdogan warned Damascus that Turkey would not shy away from war if provoked.
It was the fourth day of Turkish retaliation for firing by Syrian forces that killed five Turkish civilians on Wednesday.
The exchanges are the most serious cross-border violence in Syria's conflict, which began as a democracy uprising but has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones.
They highlight how the crisis could destabilise the region.
Nato-member Turkey was once an ally of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad but turned against him after his violent response to an uprising in which more than 30,000 people have died, according to the United Nations.
Turkey has nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps on its territory, has allowed rebel leaders sanctuary and has led calls for Dr Assad to quit.
Its armed forces are far larger than Syria's.
Mr Erdogan said yesterday his country did not want war but warned Syria not to make a "fatal mistake" by testing its resolve.
Damascus has said its fire hit Turkey accidentally.
Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said today that parliament's authorisation of possible cross-border military action was designed as a deterrent.
"From now on, if there is an attack on Turkey it will be silenced," he said in an interview with state broadcaster TRT.
Western powers have backed fellow-Nato member Turkey over Syria but shown little appetite for the kind of intervention that helped topple Libya's Muammar Gadafy.
Turkish calls for a safe zone in Syria would require a no-fly zone that Nato states are unwilling to police.
Mr Davutoglu said international mediator on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi would come to Turkey before Russian president Vladimir Putin visits Ankara within the next 10 days.
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby called Brahimi's Syria mission "virtually impossible", in a newspaper interview.
Asked about the efforts of the Egypt-Saudi-Turkey-Iran quartet to solve the crisis, Mr Elaraby said: "The solution must comprise Iran. The important thing is that matters get moving."
The 18-month-old Syrian revolt increasingly pits a Sunni Muslim opposition against Dr Assad's Alawite minority, an offshoot of the Shia Islam that dominates in Iran, whose government backs Damascus.
Rebels in the Syrian city of Aleppo said government troops tried to storm the Sakhour district today but were pushed back after heavy clashes. Activists across Syria said there was fighting in several cities and towns including the central city of Homs and in Damascus countryside.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 60 people, including 36 government soldiers, were killed across the country today in clashes.