Turkey retaliates against Syrian shelling

Turkish military returns fire after Syrian mortar round lands within Turkish territory; UN envoy to Syria conflict calls for truce between Assad, rebels
News agencies

Turkey’s military on Wednesday again returned fire at Syria after a mortar round landed three meters inside its Turkish territory.

 There were no casualties in the exchange, according to the governor’s office for the border province of Hatay.

  Meanwhile, the international envoy to the Syrian conflict called on President Bashar Assad‘s regime to take the lead in suspending combat with rebels in the country during a major Muslim holiday later this month. 

Lakhdar Brahimi said rebel representatives have assured him they will also observe the truce if the government takes the first step.

 “The Syrian people are burying hundreds of people each day, so if they bury fewer people during the days of the holiday, this could be the start of Syria’s return from the dangerous situation that it … is continuing to slip toward,” he told reporters in Beirut.

 Brahimi’s push to get Assad and rebels seeking to topple him to stop fighting for the four-day Eid al-Adha feast set to begin Oct. 26 reflects how little progress international diplomacy has made in halting 19 months of deadly violence in Syria. Activists say more than 33,000 people have been killed.

 ‘Long truce unlikely’

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolgu said his country supports a holiday cease-fire but was skeptical that it would lead to a longer truce without an international force to make it “sustainable.”

 “A cease-fire can be declared but the international community would need to take certain measures for its sustainability,” the state-run Anadolu agency quoted him as saying.

 Davutolgu later told reporters in Ankara that “for a true cease-fire to hold, the siege of the cities, their bombings by air and by tanks must immediately stop.”

 

Once a close ally of Damascus, Turkey has become one of Assad’s staunchest opponents. The two neighbors have traded artillery fire over their border since Oct. 3 when a Syrian shell struck a Turkish border town, killing five civilians and sharply escalating tensions.

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