UPDATE, 4:15 PM Eastern - Al Jazeera reports 34 citizens in Syria killed by Turkish strikes.
UPDATE, 3:55 PM Eastern – Idlib, Syria airport Bombed by Turkey. Missile batteries targeted, Iran goes on High Alert! Flash Traffic is now being monitored.
Editor’s Note – Turkey, as of 3:20 PM has returned fire on Syria. There is an emergency meeting at NATO underway now.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Turkey’s foreign minister on Wednesday he strongly condemned a mortar strike from Syria that killed five people in southeastern Turkey, a NATO spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said NATO continued to follow developments in the region “closely and with great concern”.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu earlier had contacted Rasmussen, who has said repeatedly that NATO has no intention of intervening in Syria but stood ready to defend NATO member Turkey, if necessary. (Reuters)
The UN has already responded as well:
Following reported shelling, Ban encourages Turkey to keep open communication channels with Syria.
In an exchange with Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoðlu, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his condolences at the “tragic loss of life” caused in a shelling incident reportedly involving Syria, according to the UN chief’s spokesperson.
So far, the response by Turkey was as follows:
ISTANBUL (AP) — The office of Turkey’s prime minister says Turkish artillery has fired on Syrian targets after deadly shelling from the Syrian side hit a Turkish border town.
The Turkish statement says the artillery fired “on points in Syria that were detected with radar, in line with the rules of engagement.”
From Ivan Watson, CNN
(CNN) – At least five people were killed and a dozen injured when a shell landed on a house in the Turkish town of Akcakale, near the Syrian border, a local mayor and the semi-official Anadolu news agency said Wednesday.
The artillery shell was fired from the Syrian district of Tel Abayad, according to Anadolu. However, it is not yet clear what military force or group launched it.
The incident may worsen already tense relations between Turkey and neighboring Syria, which is wracked by an 18-month-long conflict.
Musa Ozer, who lives next to the house where the artillery shell landed, was crying as he spoke on the phone with CNN.
“The bomb fell on us. My head’s really not in the right place right now,” he said. “My uncle was injured and his wife died. What am I to make of this?”
Local neighborhood mayor Salih Aydogdu said those killed by the shell were three children, their mother and a neighbor.
“Over the last month we’ve had these types of incident five or six times. This is a small place; every time it happens, we can hear it. We are right on the border with Syria,” he said.
“The people of Akcakale are upset. We want the governor and the police to take precautions. This was Turkey’s most peaceful and tranquil area. Now we have neither peace nor tranquility.”
For the past two weeks, schools have been closed in the town and the teachers have left, he added.
Akcakale Mayor Abdulhakim Ayhan also voiced the concern felt by residents of the southeastern town, in the province of Urfa.
“The people of Akcakale are rising up against this. They live in fear,” he told CNN Turk.
The mayor said the shell that caused the deaths was the second to land Wednesday on Akcakale. He said a 6-year-old boy and a woman were among the dead.
Selcuk Unal, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, told CNN that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had contacted the Arab League and U.N. special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, over the incident.
Davutoglu is currently consulting with other foreign ministry officials, Unal said via e-mail.
Akcakale has been rocked by previous fighting just across the border in Syria.
Last month, Turkish residents watched as Syrian shells crashed into Syrian territory, barely a stone’s throw away from the Turkish border fence.
The close artillery barrage forced Turkish authorities to temporarily shut schools in Akcakale and close off roads leading to the Syrian border.
Only two years ago, Syria and Turkey enjoyed cozy bilateral relations. The neighbors had instituted visa-free travel for their citizens, and cross-border trade was booming.
Diplomatic relations ruptured, however, months after the Syrian uprising began. Last March, Turkey shuttered its embassy in Damascus and the Syrian government declared Turkey’s ambassador, Omer Onhon, persona non grata.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly denounced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, publicly calling on him to step down after accusing him of massacring his own people.
The Syrian government, meanwhile, has accused Turkey of arming and funding Syrian rebels.
CNN journalists have witnessed light weapons in the form of assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns coming from Turkey to Syrian rebels.
In addition, Turkey is currently hosting more than 93,000 Syrian refugees in camps. Turkish officials estimate another 40,000 to 50,000 unofficial refugees live in Turkey outside refugee camps.
This is not the first deadly cross-border incident between the two neighbors.
On Tuesday, Turkish officials announced at least two suspected Kurdish fighters were killed after a clash broke out along the border in Turkey’s Mardin province.
In June, the Syrian government announced it had shot down a Turkish military reconnaissance jet after it crossed into Syrian airspace.
Two Turkish pilots were killed in the incident. The Turkish government continues to insist the jet was shot down by a surface to air missile after it left Syrian airspace — claims that the Syrian government denies.
CNN’s Gul Tuysuz and Talia Kayali contributed to this report.