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Turkey exchanges artillery fire with Syria

The exchange kept tensions along the volatile border running high and stoked fears of a regional conflagration.

Akcakale: Turkey`s military on Sunday fired artillery on targets inside Syria for a fifth consecutive day, immediately responding to a Syrian shell that landed on Turkish soil.

The exchange kept tensions along the volatile border running high and stoked fears of a regional conflagration.

An Associated Press journalist witnessed the shell landing some 200 meters inside Turkey, near the border town of Akcakale. A short time later, eight artillery shells could be heard fired from Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday warned that Ankara would respond forcefully to each errant Syrian shell that lands on Turkish soil. The latest Syria-Turkey crisis erupted earlier this week, after a Syrian shell killed five civilians in a Turkish border town.

Inside Syria today, Syrian forces clashed with rebels across the country, from the northern city of Aleppo to the southern border with Jordan.

Activists said opposition fighters were strengthening their hold over the village off Khirbet al-Jouz, in the northern province of Idlib, which borders Turkey and where violent clashes broke out a day earlier.

The Turkish state run Anadolu news agency said that the rebels had regained full control of Khirbet al-Jouz. It said the Syrian army was forced to "pull back" following an "offensive" by some 700 rebels.

It also reported that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad`s troops were forced to retreat some 20 kilometers toward the town of Jisr al-Shughour. It said rebels in Khirbet al-Jouz celebrated their victory by firing their weapons into the air.
The Britain based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces pulled out of two villages in the Idlib countryside near Turkey.

In Khirbet al-Jouz, wounded Syrian soldiers were left to fend for themselves after government troops were forced to retreat from the area, the Observatory said.
The reports could not be independently confirmed, and it was not clear whether the wounded soldiers were captured by the rebels.


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