Turkey again returned fire Friday after another Syrian shell slammed into its territory close to the border, said local authorities quoted by Anatolia news agency as Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that testing Turkey would be “a fatal mistake.”
The Syrian projectile hit 50 meters (160 feet) from the frontier in a rural area near Turkey’s Yayladagi town in Hatay province, triggering immediate response fire from Turkish forces, said Hatay governor Celalettin Lekesiz.
There were no injuries in Turkey, said Lekesiz, according to AFP.
The fresh exchange came two days after Syrian shelling killed five Turkish nationals in another border town, Akcakale, triggering retaliatory fire and plunging tense relations between the neighbors into a new crisis.
Turkey reacted furiously, and Erdogan again warned Syria that it would pay “a big price” for further attacks.
The warning came a day after his government obtained a one-year mandate from parliament authorizing military raids into Syria if necessary.
Erdogan again said Turkey was not interested in war but would not hesitate to retaliate against any attack and violation of its national security.
Wednesday’s incident marked the first time Syrian shells killed Turkish nationals since the uprising against the regime in Damascus began in March 2011.
Turkey had ceased fire on early Thursday, after its sporadic shelling pounded unspecified targets in Syria throughout Wednesday night.
Another shell landed in Hatay Thursday evening, which also led Turkey to briefly return fire, Lekesiz noted.
Meanwhile, Erdogan said on Friday that testing Turkey would be “a fatal mistake,” in a warning to Damascus.
Striking a belligerent tone in a speech to a crowd in Istanbul, Erdogan said: “We are not interested in war, but we’re not far from it either. This nation has come to where it is today having gone through intercontinental wars,” Reuters reported.
“Those who attempt to test Turkey’s deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here they are making a fatal mistake,” he said.
“When they say ‘if you want peace prepare for war’ it means that when the time comes, war becomes the key to peace.”
Despite the rhetoric, Turkey has said it will act under international law and in coordination with other foreign powers.
The U.N. Security Council on Thursday condemned the Syrian strike, while the United States has said it stands by its NATO ally’s right to defend itself against aggression spilling over from Syria's internal armed conflict.