* Turkish military hits targets in Syria
* Calls Syrian mortar bombing an "abominable attack"
* Mortar bomb killed five in Turkish town
* NATO ambassadors meet to discuss threat to member state
By Seyhmus Cakan
AKCAKALE, Turkey, Oct 3 Turkey's military hit
targets inside Syria on Wednesday in response to a mortar bomb
fired from Syrian territory which killed five Turkish civilians.
In the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month
uprising in Syria, Turkey hit back at what it called "the last
straw" when a mortar hit a residential neighbourhood of the
border town of Akcakale.
NATO called an urgent meeting to discuss the matter.
"Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately
to this abominable attack in line with their rules of
engagement; targets were struck through artillery fire against
places in Syria identified by radar," Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan's office said in a statement.
"Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of
provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security."
There were no immediate details of the Turkish strikes
against Syria, nor was it clear who had fired the mortar into
Residents of Akcakale gathered outside the local mayor's
office, afraid to return to their homes as the dull thud of
distant artillery fire rumbled across the town.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged Turkey to keep
all channels of communication open with Syria. He later issued a
statement calling on "the Syria Government to respect fully the
territorial integrity of its neighbours as well as to end the
violence against the Syrian people."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed outrage at
the mortar from Syria and said Washington would discuss with
Ankara what the next steps should be, calling the spread of
violence a "very, very dangerous situation".
Washington sees Turkey as a pivotal player in backing
Syria's opposition and planning for the post-Assad era. But
Ankara has found itself increasingly isolated and frustrated by
a lack of international consensus on how to end the conflict.
Turkey's military response contrasted with its relative
restraint when Syria shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet in
June. Ankara increased its military presence along its 900-km
(560-mile) border with Syria and called a meeting of NATO's
North Atlantic Council.
That meeting was only the second time in NATO's 63-year
history that members had convened under Article 4 of its charter
which provides for consultations when a member state feels its
territorial integrity, political independence or security is
The same article was invoked for the meeting of NATO
ambassadors to be held in Brussels later on Wednesday.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said after the
mortar attack: "This latest incident is the last straw. Turkey
is a sovereign country. Its own soil has been attacked."
"There must be a response to this under international law,"
he said, according to Turkey's Cihan news agency.
Some 30,000 people have been killed across Syria, activists
say, in an uprising that has grown into a full-scale civil war
with sectarian overtones and threatens to draw in regional Sunni
Muslim and Shi'ite powers.
Violence inside Syria intensified on Wednesday with three
suicide car bombs and a mortar barrage ripping through a
government-controlled district of central Aleppo housing a
military officers' club, killing 48 people, according to