Turkish Artillary Kills Syrian Soldiers

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Turkey continued firing heavy artillery into Syria Wednesday, killing several Syrian soldiers at a military outpost, a move approved by the Turkish parliament Thursday.

The conflict came after five Turkish civilians died in a cross-border mortar shell attack Tuesday.

In an emergency session Thursday morning, parliamentarians passed a proposal allowing Turkey to respond to Syrian aggression with military force.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Turkish artillery killed several Syrian soldiers at a military base near the border town of Tel Abyad in retaliation for the civilian deaths.

On Tuesday, a mortar shell scored a direct hit on a house in the Turkish village of Akcakale, killing a woman, her three young daughters and another woman and wounding at least 10 others, including two policemen, The Associated Press reported.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement saying Turkey "will never leave unreciprocated such provocations by the Syrian regime against our national security."

"Our armed forces at the border region responded to this atrocious attack with artillery fire on points in Syria that were detected with radar, in lines with the rules of engagement," the statement read.

Turkey appealed to NATO and the U.N. Security Council to intervene on its behalf.

In a letter to the Security Council president, Turkish U.N. Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan called the attack "a flagrant violation of international law, as well as a breach of international peace and security."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was "outraged" at the cross-border attack, calling it "a very, very dangerous situation" and urging "all responsible nations …to persuade the Assad regime to have a cease-fire, quit assaulting their own people and begin the process of a political transition."

Clinton reportedly assured Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that Turkey had full U.S. backing with NATO and the U.N.

More than 90,000 Syrians are now living in Turkish refugee camps near the border, where Turkey continues to beef up its military presence.

Meanwhile, in a precautionary move, Israel Defense Forces troops escorted Israeli Sukkot vacationers further down the slopes of the Mount Hermon ski resort after about 50 Syrians in civilian clothing, some armed with machine guns, were seen near the border.

Israeli troops have been reinforcing the border with Syria since early September in preparation for any spillover from the bloody 18-month civil war, which so far has shown little signs of abating.

During a tour of the border Wednesday, IDF chief of intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said "the weakening of the Syrian regime's grip and the increasing infiltration of global jihad elements pose a new threat [to Israel], which the army is preparing for." 

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