Turkish PM doesn't want war with Syria



Akcakale: Turkey doesn't want war with Syria but it's determined to protect its borders and its people, the country's Prime Minister declared on Friday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at a news conference hours after Turkey's Parliament approved a bill authorizing military operations against Syria. Earlier, Turkey fired on targets in Syria for a second day following a Syrian shelling that killed five civilians in the Turkish border town of Akcakale.

Erdogan suggested that the Syrian shelling was not accidental, saying such shells had fallen on Turkish territory on seven previous occasions since Syria's civil war began last year.

"We want peace and security and nothing else. We would never want to start a war," Erdogan said, speaking from Akcakale. "Turkey is a country which is capable of protecting its people and borders. No one should attempt to test our determination on the issue."

For its part, Syria admitted it was responsible for the shelling that killed five people and formally apologised for the deaths, another top Turkish official said.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said Syria has reassured the UN that "such an incident will not occur again."

The border violence has added a dangerous new dimension to Syria's civil war, dragging Syria's neighbors deeper into a conflict that activists say has already killed 30,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March 2011.

Atalay said Parliament's authorisation was not declaration of war on Syria but gives Turkey the right to respond to any future attacks from Syria. "The bill is not for war," Atalay said. "It has deterrent qualities."

PTI