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Border war: Syria and Turkey have exchanged fire every day this month

Special to WorldTribune.com

ANKARA — Over the last month, Syria and Turkey have been waging a
muted border war.

Turkish sources said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has
overseen a new policy of retaliation against Syrian shelling. They said
Erdogan has ordered the military to respond to each Syrian mortar or
artillery shell that fell into Turkey.

A Turkish soldier stands guard at the Turkish-Syrian border near Akcakale on Oct. 5. /Reuters/Murad Sezer

“We are ready to respond with greater force,” Turkish Chief of Staff
Gen. Necdet Ozel said.

The sources said Syria and Turkey have exchanged fire nearly every day in October 2012. They said Ankara has determined that Turkish Army shelling killed at least 12 Syrian soldiers and destroyed five main battle tanks.

On Oct. 20, the Turkish daily Milliyet provided the first figures of
Turkey’s shooting war with Syria. Defense analyst Fikret Bila, regarded as having close contacts with the military, said Syria fired 27 mortars and other shells into Turkey.

In response, the Turkish Army fired 87 times into Syria and targeted
bases of President Bashar Assad. Bila said the Turkish Army was ordered to respond to every Syrian shelling and destroyed five Russian-origin MBTs,
three armored vehicles, a mortar, ammunition vehicle and two anti-aircraft guns.

The sources said the Turkish Air Force has been patrolling the
900-kilometer border with Syria on a daily basis and driving away Assad’s
fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. They said the air force base at Incirlik in
southern Turkey, which contains 100 F-16 multi-role fighters, has been on
alert for Syrian military infiltration.

Turkey’s government and military have refused to provide details of the
border war with Syria. But the sources said Erdogan ordered Turkish
retaliation after the killing of five Turks from Syrian shelling on Oct. 4.

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