Turkey returns fire after shots fired from Syria

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s military on Thursday returned fire after shots were fired at an armored personnel carrier from across the border with Syria.

A military statement said a group of around three to five people from across the border fired up to 15 shots toward the vehicle that was patrolling an area near the Orontes river, on the frontier. Turkish state-run TRT television said no one was wounded and the military said the group escaped and “disappeared from view” when it fired back.

Turkey has repeatedly struck back at the Syrian military in response to shelling and mortar rounds that landed on its territory since shells from Syria struck a Turkish village in October, killing five people. The incident prompted NATO to send anti-aircraft batteries to the area to protect Turkey.

Thursday’s incident was the first time the military has responded to shots fired from across the border and comes at a time of increased fears that Turkey and other neighbors of Syria are being drawn into the country’s civil war.

Turkey was once a close ally of Syria, but has now turned into one of Syrian President Bashar Assad regime’s harshest critics. It is a key supporter of the Syrian rebels, offering shelter for many senior and lower-ranking defected Syrian soldiers.

Turkey has blamed Syria for a pair of car bombings at the border town of Reyhanli on May 11, which killed 52 people. Syria has denied any involvement.

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