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Turkey says artillery fire on Syria halted

6:11 AM, Oct 4, 2012   |    comments
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ANKARA, Turkey (CBSNEWS.com) - Turkish artillery continued firing overnight on Syrian targets in retaliation for shelling from Syria that struck a border village, killing five civilians.

A Turkish official told CBS News on Thursday morning that the artillery fire had halted after "possibly several" targets in the same area were hit. He said targets were in the area from which the shell was fired from Syria on Wednesday.

The official, who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity, said the "targets were all military," but would not elaborate on what was hit on the Syrian side, or whether there were known human casualties.

The Syrian government had not acknowledged that Turkey fired across the border, but officials in Damascus did say they were investigating the killing of the five Turkish citizens, and they offered condolences to the families.

A woman, her three daughters and another woman were killed when a shell from Syria hit a home in Akcakale.

The shelling appeared to come from Syrian government forces who were fighting Syrian rebels backed by Turkey, which has called for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"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 line with the rules of engagement," the Turkish government said in a statement Wednesday evening. "Turkey, acting within the rules of engagement and international laws, will never leave unreciprocated such provocations by the Syrian regime against our national security."

Turkish media said Turkey had prepared a parliamentary bill for Syria that is similar to one that authorizes the Turkish military to intervene in northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish militants who have bases there. The bill was expected to be discussed in parliament on Thursday, Anadolu agency reported.

If approved, the bill could more easily open the way to unilateral action by Turkey's armed forces inside Syria, without the involvement of its Western and Arab allies.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. was "outraged that the Syrians have been shooting across the border," adding that she would speak with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the matter.

"It's a very, very dangerous situation," Clinton said. "And all responsible nations need to band together to persuade the Assad regime to have a cease-fire, quit assaulting their own people and begin the process of a political transition."

"This is yet another example of the depraved behavior of the Syrian regime, and why it must go," said Pentagon press secretary George Little. "We regret the loss of life in Turkey, a strong ally, and continue to monitor the situation closely."

There was also a hastily called meeting of NATO representatives on Wednesday evening following the artillery fire.

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