EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned Syria for shelling that killed civilians in Turkey, and urged restraint after Ankara returned fire.
“I strongly condemn yesterday’s shelling by Syrian forces of the Turkish border town of Akcakale, which killed five and injured many more,” Ashton said, adding: “I call for restraint from all sides.”
Ashton said she was in contact with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to express the European Union’s “solidarity and our condolences to the families of the victims and to the Turkish people.”
She said she was following Turkish pounding of Syrian military positions “extremely closely” given mounting concern over “the tragic spill-over effects of the Syrian crisis in neighboring countries”.
She added in her statement: “I once again urge the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to the violence and fully respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all neighboring countries — such violations of Turkey’s sovereignty cannot be tolerated.”
In related news, Syria’s chief ally Iran echoed Ashton’s sentiments and urged Syria and Turkey to both show “restraint”, according to the Fars news agency.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran asks both sides to show restraint, to investigate the issue and take note of the enemy’s goals in the region,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs, Hossein Amir Adbolahian, told the news agency.
“Both sides have to take note of armed extremist and terrorist groups in the region…. The security in the region lies in increasing control over the borders around Syria,” he said.
Ankara unleashed artillery shells into Syria after mortar fire from its war-torn neighbour killed five, including a mother and her three children. The Turkish military fire killed several Syrian soldiers, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Meanwhile, in Ankara on Thursday, the Turkish parliament met behind closed doors in an emergency session to consider the government’s request to authorize Ankara to conduct cross-border military operations inside Syria.
Wednesday’s incident marked the first time that Turkish citizens had been killed as a result of fire from Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in March 2011.
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